When I read the obituary about Sister Wendy one thing she said struck me. “I’m not a critic. I’m an appreciator” she said in 1999, “I think great art opens us not just to the truth as an artist sees it, but to our own truth . . . You’re being invited to enter into the reality of what it means to be human.”
Those words resonated with me because she shared a powerful secret to creativity. I don’t know many critics who can boast a body of work (films, books, paintings, dance, recipes etc…). They have a collection of opinions and that’s their job, but for the creator that’s a deadly occupation.
I find it very sad when I meet a writer who tells me they haven’t found a book that interests them anymore. Or a musician who thinks all the present music is crap; an artist who finds no value in a new artist in a museum or a summer’s day (yes I actually heard an artist say that the sky wasn’t as blue as they’d once remembered…sigh)
It’s easy to find fault. To criticize and tear down. Especially if the work is embraced by a multitude of others (the unwashed masses) but while you may not like or understand something that’s popular if you cannot find joy in anything I fear for you. You’re doomed as an artist/creator.
To become an admirer takes a generous heart and the ability to get lost in wonder.
Adulthood can come packed with a jaded eye, a been-there-seen-that mentality.
But you haven’t seen everything. Really. Not if you’re truly looking. Every day, every moment has something to show you that you’ve overlooked.
It is never the creator’s job to become the critic, to feel superior to others. The creator’s job is to embrace the wonder and share it with the rest of us.