Ruth Gordon: No Dust On Me
All the criticism needs to be self-directed, you know? I spent a lot of time worrying about and crying about and complaining about the theatre and film and literature and fashion and declining standards and a lack of seriousness--and I was looking around at everyone else and pointing fingers. The problems were mine. The problems are yours. You can only sweep up outside your own front door, as a wise playwright once told us. So clean it. The area outside my front door is spotless, I tell you! No dust on me. You have to rise to the standards; you have to exhaust yourself doing the best work--all kinds of work--to make yourself useful and valuable. I only look at other people now to support and praise them: If they aren't terribly good or helpful to me, I just forget about it right away. Instant amnesia! Not my problem. That's their problem, and I trust that they'll get it right. Everybody's got to get it right or the whole thing falls apart, and nothing has fallen apart yet, so look up and keep moving.
It's true that whatever you hate in a performance or a person or a building or a painting or a book is something about yourself that's just begging to be renovated or removed or analyzed. Work on yourself. It takes a lifetime, but you may give something--or a few things--that matter to people.
Keep the finger on yourself.
© 2013 James Grissom