I was told once, “The problem with you, Bill, is you just aren’t a good writer.” I was also told once that maybe I should make up the stories and let other people write them. My own father once told me I would never be a success as a writer. In each other these moments it felt as if all the air had been sucked out of the room, but afterwards I found I was still standing and I was still able to write another story if I wanted to, which I did. It’s strange to think now, but I realize I had spent years afraid of criticism not so much because the criticism itself could hurt me, but because I feared one more slight, one more bad review would stop me, as if my bones had been made so brittle from years of abuse that just one more blow and they would all crumble, leaving me a inert sack of criticized flesh.
Yet I am not just unbroken but unbreakable. That which is the source of all that I love, from writing, to music, to my friends and my family, is beyond criticism. That which is the source of all that I love knows only that it loves to love and can only seek more of it. Criticizing love for loving would be like criticizing a cat for being furry.
When I stand outside of love I am like a cat ashamed of my own fur. When I stand outside of love I have only my ego to protect me, but there are too many right answers in the world in direct contradiction with one another to feel safe here. There is no reason to love anything other than you love it, yet the critic in all of us asks us each to justify what we love, like some marketing guru from Hell who demands we know exactly how many copies a novel will sell before we begin writing it. Love begins for love itself, and you can leave love but you cannot break it, you can doubt love but you cannot stop it. It is the whole world top to bottom, and in case you haven’t noticed, you’re already in it.
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