Pity the tight, constrained, over-edited lines
living their conventional lives
lined up in perfect order
little scouts, doing what they’re told
unable to speak for themselves…
Oh, do you mind? May I break through the lines to ask a few questions on behalf of those little scouts?
Why must the Critic intervene before an Original Thought can been aired? Where does it come from, this self-doubt, this Second Thought? What is the Second Thought? Why does it attack the first thought, the Original Thought?
What have we done to Original Thought? Why must it be attacked? Why do we not regard it as something sacred, like a newborn child who simply needs to be loved and nurtured? Why can’t it just be left alone to live and grow more Original Thoughts?
And what do we mean by Original Thought in the first place? Where is the origin ground? What is the source from which we draw? (Why do I want to rip this page from my book, strike my original questions?)
Who is the Second Thought? Why does it need to destroy the first? Can’t a voice be heard? Can’t a space be made to air the whole cloth before it is torn to pieces?
What wants to be born? What is pushing to come out, putting me through a lifetime of labor? What gets frustrated when I am not heard? Why do I equate my Soul with the voice of the Original Thought? Am I the Original Thought?
Why must I be shaped, shape-changed, made into a form that is not my own? Am I not good enough? Am I not valid unto myself and worthy of being heard? Why must I be heard? Who demands an audience? With whom?
What if my Second Thought were to change? What if it became more amenable, more curious, more respectful of the Original Thought? Is the Second Thought afraid of my wild nature? Why are we all so happy when the Original voice escapes? Is that not the release that the Second Thought needs?
What has made you so afraid, my Second Thought?
Are you not tired of interjecting yourself between original instinct and the public eye? Are you not disenchanted with others’ opinions and judgements? Don’t you just want to throw away the red pen and have a picnic in the meadow of a single Original Thought?
Aren’t you tired of all the murdering-to-dissect? Isn’t it obvious by now that it’s a self-defeating cycle? When will you be finished with the need to be recognized or rewarded for all the pains you’ve taken? Don’t you think you’ve done enough? Aren’t you ready to retire?
What if you stepped aside and let an Original Thought change the way you decide? What if you simply sat in the meadow and listened to the melodious stream of consciousness? What beauty or free thing might rise up into all that space your listening creates? What if you turned off the noise of the demanding world to find out, for once and for all, what hasn’t been heard?
Can you see yourself in the mirror now, my Second Thought? Do you approve of my questions? Do you not think there is a place for them? Can you stand your own critique? Do you struggle with your own Second Thoughts?
How did I originate as The Critic? Was it in the classroom on my first day of school, when, as a little girl, I drew a blue line down the spine of every page in my scribbler? How did I feel when I was dragged to the front of the class to show my offensive blue lines? Did I come to life when the child was cursed by the teacher who taught the class to point and chant, “Shame, shame, double shame?”
Did I rise up to protect her from future humiliations of Original Thought? Did I find my mission in second-guessing what others wanted to hear? Was I very disappointed when, for all my efforts, her Original Thoughts kept breaking through and humiliating us?
How did I feel when she insisted on writing her university essays in her own voice? Wasn’t I disgruntled when she refused to think the teachers’ thoughts and got D’s on her essays? How awful were those reprimands and the mocking laughter of the professors who put her metaphors to death? Was I not justified in railing against Original Thoughts of every kind?
How exhausted did I become over the years? How much trauma did I suffer when she started to record her dreams? Wasn’t I overwhelmed when those subconscious dams broke? How was I supposed to cope when she started telling fairy tales? What could I do about her resolve to validate what the public regards as childish fantasies?!
How on earth did I survive what came next? How small did I become when she let out her wild voices, when I cringed in the corner and stopped my ears?
Did she push me to the limit then? Did she silence me?
Do I not suffer my own invalidation? Am I not feeling ravaged by her Original Thoughts?
What am I to do now? Am I to stage some sort of rebellion?
Or am I having Second Thoughts about Second Thoughts? Am I starting to reconsider my role? What is helpful critique, and what is not? Is there any reason for my continued existence?
What is this new feeling, this new confidence in Original Thoughts? Where is she getting the spirit to present herself to critics without shame? Am I not relieved to see her standing up for the worth of her Original Thoughts?
What is this new affection I am feeling for the Original voice? Isn’t she wonderfully irrepressible? Have I not felt this love all along? Can it finally be expressed? Can I now relax and come to know the wonders of my Original Thoughts? Am I made of more than negation and fear, cautions and admonitions: “You can’t say that, what will people think?” Can I switch sides? Can I stand with her in the face of critique? Can I look at Rejection and say, “No, we reject your rejection!”
What is this new détente I am feeling? Where is the impression coming from that I am sitting beside a melodious stream with my sister, my eternally Original Thoughts?
Is that laughter I hear? Is it raining in the meadow? Are these my tears?
Featured image by William Black
Final image by Michelle Tocher