Works of art are of an infinite solitude and no means of approach is so useless as criticism. Only Love can touch and hold them and be fair to them. Always trust yourself and your own feeling as opposed to argumentations, discussions or introductions of that sort. If it turns out that you are wrong, then the natural growth of your inner life will eventually guide you to other insights.
—Rainer Maria Rilke
I have a great fondness for the truth of this quote. When creating, when writing, it is important to set the critic aside to be free, to be able to fully express what needs to be expressed. Later, after all is expressed, one can gently go back in and edit. One can ask for feedback where you are fed and nurtured in such a way that your work, writing or your art, will be sculpted so that it will maintain the integrity of your vision. Too many times, criticism can come across harshly, as evaluation and judgment, even as condemnation and disapproval based on one person’s interpretation and analysis, their own unrealized dreams or life experience.
Many years ago, I sent a group of monologues to someone who I thought was “in the know.” Who I thought could get me a leg-up in the storytelling industry in Los Angeles. They left a long message on my machine about my work and their dislike of one piece, in particular. Fortunately, I didn’t take this person’s words to heart. For I already had positive words about my work from a well-known director, producer, and teacher in NYC, someone who supported my work and words, including the specific piece that the Los Angeles person found distasteful. So the Angeleno’s fault-finding words fell on deaf ears. But had it been someone else receiving their critical words, confidence could easily have been destroyed. Much later, I found out that the person leaving this voice message on my phone machine was not who they said they were. Rather, they were a would-be writer and actor trying to find their own way in the industry. They were not “in the know,” and I am grateful I didn’t take any of their words seriously.
I was often led, or perhaps gravitated, towards those teachers that taught with great heart. I remember my painting teacher in California. She ran a most unusual class. We’d meet and paint for two hours in the early evening. By the end of class, she’d be finishing dinner for her kids—and for us! Then there would be a movie and popcorn. The film, a documentary or feature, was often about art. It was a fun-filled evening every single week from six until ten. In my year of study with her, I never heard her tell any student what they were doing wrong. She always pointed to what we could do next in our individual works. Students were free to take risks and attempt paintings that were far beyond their skillset. There were no critiques or criticisms, there was only what to do next, where to go in our work. We all thrived and, today, there are professional artists from her classes roaming the world.
I have always followed a similar structure in the way I work with clients and groups. The “work” feels more like play, and it is explorative in nature, rather than evaluative. Where a person is lifted and elevated to see a new perspective and is moved to lean towards that which gives them energy, that which holds what they value and love in their own work as sacred. It’s quite revolutionary in scope and hard to describe because each person is different in what they dream to create.
It takes a keen listening ear, and the ability to recognize what gives them meaning in their life. Then, it is making the connection from their inner values to their work, so that their seeing, their understandings and actions are inspired and nurtured, enlivened and celebrated. Sometimes it’s helping people with their language, in how they speak about themselves or what they are doing, so they can see their lives in a kinder and brighter light. Visionary ideas and suggestions, paths and possibilities become apparent. It also takes an unequivocal acceptance of what is going on in their life without my interference. People come with their own desires and woes. I don’t have to put my own desires on top of theirs!
I am in the role of benevolent witness, unconditionally accepting and loving them as they are and how they are without my desire or wish for change. Together, we step into a resonant field where acceptance and validation is key. Groundwork is laid for clarity and peace. This allows the person to thrive and see and move anew, if that is what they wish to do. An example of this kind of exploration can be found in Steve’s Story at meditation-by-design.com (two-thirds down the page.)
It is a crafting that is not written in any cookbook. There are no recipes for how to do this. It is intuitive and experiential, while being grounded in this reality. It leaves a person with insights and perspective that lets their heart be at ease—and rise—so they may continue their own creative journey with what Rilke calls, “the natural growth” of their own “inner life.”
When you are want to enhance your creative life, when you want support that is gentle and insightful, specific and wise, schedule a short interview with me to see how working together would benefit you, your life, your work, your creativity or dreams.