Posted by: Michael Rickicki | 02/22/2019

Humility and Criticism

Image result for narcissus sculpture

What am I afraid of? Being taken advantage of? Being a rube? Not being a “man” or being emasculated? Myriad excuses and ad hoc defenses of bristling hostility vie for my attention but what are they trying to protect? Criticism only hurts when I’m trying desperately to preserve this graven image of myself wrought out of the four elements and the endless babbling of the brook of consciousness.

In other words, why should I not always be thankful for criticism? If it hurts, there is yet work to be done and fault finding of any kind, whether it be “true” or not, directs the brush to those areas that need more work. I have always been concerned with trying to first decide if criticism was justified before proceeding to the next step of accepting it and internalizing it but it now seems that I should first check in and see if it hurts. If it does I can be gracious for the ghost I’ve received before unwrapping it further to see if there is any more bounty to be had.

For example, let’s say someone tells me I’m a horrible singer. Does it hurt? Yes, it still does so I must be attached to the idea that I have our should have a nice voice. Then I can proceed to unpack it further. Am I singing to be heard by others or for myself alone? Is holding others hostage to my impromptu performance something that I feel good about? Do I want to continue to sing around people who are so clearly irritated by it? Is there any good reason besides the pursuit of my own pleasure to continue?

This is just an example from my own life and you will almost certainly find your answers to the questions differ but the point is that criticism can be central to the path of seeing through our pride and arrogance. At least, it seems that way to me.

May we humble ourselves before the light of truth and extricate ourselves from the web of suffering.

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Shillelagh Studies

A hub for the music, culture, knowledge, and practice of Irish stick-fighting, past and present.