criticism

Criticism was always the shortest kid in the class. He learned early to use words to defend himself. As a teenager, Criticism loved to take things apart. At that time he didn’t care if they ever got put back together. He retains a strong curiosity about how things work and a deep respect for tools. Criticism is a strict father. He adores his children, but he fears their spontaneity.

Sometimes I want to write Criticism a letter and tell him to leave me alone. The problem is that when I don’t see him for a while, I start to miss him. Still, my conversations with him often make me nervous. I usually believe the bad things he says and forget about the good stuff. When we really disagree, I am upset for days and run around asking everyone I meet to reassure me. If I could trust him more, it would be different, but he changes his mind as much as I do. For all his sensitivity, it was years before he realized that other people also have feelings.

– J. Ruth Gendler, The Book of Qualities

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clarity

My visits to Clarity are soothing now. He never tells me what to think or feel or do but shows me how to find out what I need to know. It was not always like this. I used to visit other people who visited him. Finally, I summoned the courage to call on him myself. I still remember the first time I went to see him. Was I surprised. He lives on a hill in a little house surrounded by wild roses. I went in the living room and sat down in a comfortable chair by the fireplace. There were topographical maps on the walls, and the room was full of stuff, musical instruments and telescopes and gloves, geodes and crystals and old Italian tarot decks, two small cats. When I left, he presented me with a sketchbook and told me to draw the same thing every day until the drawing started to speak to me.

The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler

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