There are professional reputation smashers, sometimes referred to as “the Old Grump next door.” No matter what you can do, they can do it better. If you sing, they sing better (even though they can’t sing). If you dance, they dance better (even though they can’t dance). If you coach a hockey team, they can do it better (even though they know nothing of hockey). Whatever it is, they know more than you, even though they are vacant of knowledge and experience, and have no clue. And since they make assessments without understanding, it shouldn’t be particularly surprising that their judgment is inaccurate. Whether they are critiquing the works of genius or praising the truly awful, these Critics tend toward error an inordinate amount of the time. Nevertheless, they possess tremendous influence. And that influence is behind the tragic loss of much that would have benefited to the world.
Chinese philosopher, Chuang-tse describes the small mindedness of the Critics in his story about a know-it-all quail. In China there is a great bird known as the P’eng. Its back, broad as a mountain range, extends to support expansive wings, which sweep the sky like clouds. In flight it rises powerfully like a whirlwind penetrating the high mist and majestically soars into the heavens.
As the P’eng glides smoothly, effortlessly on its way to the sea, a quail in the marsh gazes up and laughs. “What does that bird think it is doing?” The quail exclaims, “I leap, fly a few feet and descend again; I flutter busily among the bushes, jumping from here to there and back again. That is what flying is for! Who is that creature trying to fool?”
Thus it is that the small-minded, lacking knowledge and perspective, cannot lift their vision to comprehend greatness, anymore than the words of a fool can equal the depth of a wise one, or the experience of a few years can equal that of many.
Remember this when the voice of inspiration speaks to you and you recognize that it is time to step beyond past limitations because something greater beckons you. The creative among us can discern true art, the visionary can ascertain direction, and the small-minded will stand back in their safe domain and condemn.
Where do you see yourself? Is it time to step into a vaster experience? Or would you choose to risk nothing to stay safe and small?