Tiny Knives
Contributor

There will always be some people who will cut you with words, so sharp and quick sometimes, that you hardly notice. But inside these small unkindnesses, their meanness has the fine keen edge of a razor. Little criticisms, mean little remarks for no reason– they cut you with tiny knives, so the nicks are shallow. They only sting for a minute, and seem to heal quickly, and only faint scars remain. Like the scrapes on your knees from falls on the pavement when you were ten years old, joyously rollerskating down the hill, the nicks heal up quickly on the surface, but the little scars make layers, scar on scar. After a while you forget, but you don't skate as brave and fearless down the hill as before, and your love of skating is not quite the same. In that same kind of way, mean lttle negative remarks sting, even though you know they're no big deal. Your feelings, like the skin of your young knees, must begin to toughen, and a shadow falls across your faith in yourself.
                     (from More About This: Metaphysical Thoughts and Questions of the Heart, Essays. –Victoria Chames)

“Mediocrity always attacks excellence.”
I came across this sentence scribbled in the margin of something entirely else. Stumbling across it was synchronistic and very relevant to some thoughts and questions I’ve had on the back-burner of my mind lately. I assumed it was a quote, but I hadn’t written down the name of the sayer. I wondered who it was, and thought, “To have said this out loud must have taken an unshakable internal, not external confidence, and a high degree of genuine self-respect.” I knew I could not have authored the sentence myself.

I had to Goggle it, and I was surprised to find that it was not spoken by some successful giant of commerce, great-achiever of wealth and  fame, but by Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, a New Thought Minister who is locally, but not nationally, well known in these circles. (We call ourselves “truth students” or “light-seekers, and it’s a spiritual, not religious, endeavor. It's about living a spiritual life while still accepting and loving yourself as human and fallible.) 

Things like this, little messages from the cosmos as I call them, often pop up at odd moments in my life, found between the pages of a forgotten book or old letter, scrawled on an odd scrap of paper or envelope in a handwriting I don't recognize. They tend to turn up unsought, right when I need them, and lately I have been needing this one. I know that this bold statement is true, but I’ve been tiptoeing around this concept for years. No, decades. 

As a girl growing up in Texas, I was raised to be modest and self-effacing. That was the standard back then, and maybe still is, for all I know. I left at 21. Back then, for me to suggest in any way that I had a talent or gift of value would have been seen as arrogance and an unthinkable sin. The other side of that unfortunately false coin is that sometimes later in life, I have resented or disrespected people who claimed excellence outright, especially if I thought their work was not all that great. (BTW, who am I to say? I don't know everything about everything!)

I can’t claim to be great myself, and most likely I never would, even if the world did, which is very unlikely. But I know I'm not mediocre, and so I recoil in resentment at the snarky little remarks and unnecessary petty criticisms about myself or my work that surprise me from time to time. They don’t come in reviews, from media, or professionals, they come from other writers, strangers or presumed friends I meet in writer workshops and seminars. Places designed for writers to help and mutually support each other.

“Where did that come from!” I ask myself. "Why does that person dislike me? They don't even know me!" And then I notice that my hackles are up, and so for my own good, I’ve got to stop and  take myself in hand. I have learned that the most important thing for a writer to do when we are stung by the subtle or not-so-subtle little passive-aggressive jabs, (and we all have been) is to stop a moment and take a breath. 

Remind yourself that what matters, what influences your life, your success, and the integrity of your work is not what they think or what they say, but what you think, and believe about yourself. Be vigilant. Be faithful and be loyal. Don't let the mediocre ones change your mind. You know who you are, write on.

________________

My new book is out! More About This, Metaphysical Thoughts and Questions of the Heart. Essays, Darkhorse Press, ISBN 978-0-9841730-7-5.  Available at the usual places, many online, global thru Ingram, and any local real-old-fashioned-bookstore will be happy to order it for you (and there's no shipping fee.) I love cozy little bookstores, with poetry and short-story readings on Sunday afternoons for free. Whatever books you buy for gifts for the holy days this year, please visit some of the independent brick-and-mortar bookstores in your city. There's a store-finder link here, Indie Bound lists themfor you by zipcode. Click the red square.  
https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=Victoria+Chames   
Happy holidays to you. 

 

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