“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” So said Benjamin Franklin in his letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789.
He wasn’t the first to make the observation. Dig a little deeper into history and you’ll find that Edward Ward said as much in “Dancing Devils” in 1724 – “Death and Taxes, they are certain.” Even earlier, in 1716, Christopher Bullock recited “‘Tis impossible to be sure of anything but Death and Taxes.” in “The Cobler of Preston”. Fast forward a century and then some and Mark Twain also echoed it when he quipped “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.”
I’m not totally sure I agree. I think there are a few other things that we can count on happening.
Spring following winter. The daily march of the sun across the cosmos. Socks mysteriously disappearing in the dryer.
And this: step out of your comfort zone to pursue a dream and the critics will show up.
They always do. But the thing is, it’s not the critic that counts.
It never was.
Why do they show up? Who knows? Well, maybe Nietzsche knew, at least when the near and dear to us turn into the critic-at-large.
“When we have to change our mind about a person, we hold the inconvenience he causes us very much against him.” (~Friedrich Nietzsche)
Then there are the others, people who don’t know us who feel the need to criticize. You could speculate as to their reasons, but really is it even necessary? Do we need to know? Can we just accept that criticism will come, just like Spring and daffodils.
Could we just let it go, and then remember Mr. Roosevelt’s timeless words?
“It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst, if he fails,
at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
(from “The Man in the Arena” by President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910).
Look, there’s only so much time we have here. Are we going to waste it wondering why someone is unkind, or spend it being creative and daring greatly and spreading kindness all the more?
After all, kindness matters.
Critics? Not so much.
tweetables:“It is not the critic who counts” (~Theodore Roosevelt)
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