What a beautiful world it would be if all critics were gardeners. Unfortunately, there are still many lumberjacks out there. The lumberjack is the voice of the harmful critic, the one that does not have the artist’s best interests in mind. The lumberjack comes with one thing in mind, to cut stuff down.
Here’s the reality, if we’re going to create, we’re going to encounter lumberjacks, especially if we wish to create something of substance. The minute we put ourselves out there the axes start swinging. And given enough time, they will inevitably hit their mark and cut us down. It sounds scary, and it can be very painful, but it doesn’t have to be so devastating.
Here’s the upside for the trees. If a tree is cut down, even all the way down to it’s trunk, it can sprout again. What sustains a tree, what gives it life and this resurrecting power is not it’s branches or it’s fruit, it’s the roots. The roots are hidden under the ground where the lumber ax cannot swing. With each passing day these roots are watered, causing them to grow deeper and create an increasingly firm foundation for the tree.
The artist who finds his full identity in the things he creates is like a tree with shallow roots. The lumberjacks will swing, cut him down, and easily uproot him. The artist with deep roots, the one whose identity is found in who she is rather than what she does has no fear of the lumberjacks. Cut down her work— she will rise again. Swing away at her all you want, you cannot change who she is.
The trees that are afraid of lumberjacks never grow. The artists that are afraid of critics never create. Do away with the fear today. Let them try and cut you down. Let them succeed even. They cannot change who you are.