Critiquing by creating: what our world seems to have forgotten how to do

My creative compass rarely points to things that scare the snot out of me. I favor creating things that I sense will make someone smile, that will make an otherwise pedestrian mail day a bit brighter. I create safely. I rarely create to bend rules or write new ones.

But when I do, I recoil in fear that someone might come along and yank back the reins so that I’ll never get to create again. You make people uncomfortable with your creativity.
What was wrong with what we already had? This? This is too risky.

Over the past few months, though, I’ve been noodling around the idea of creating to critique. It’s a motto attributed to Michelangelo, who no doubt pondered creation with a capital C for a good fraction of his life. I can’t remember what dorkcast reminded me of the highest form of criticism, but I’ve been returning to it again and again. I wish the world would follow.

At its core, critique by creation aims to to either improve the existent model or invent something that never existed. Rather than simply evaluate the pros and cons of the unprofitable lemonade stand, critiquing by creation puts wheels on the lemonade stand and takes it on the road. We know this is not where the story ends, though. Because say the lemonade truck proves profitable. Then the critiquers will hover near. They will replicate. They may even rob. They want a squeeze of that lemon but rather than create their own mobile happiness, they are mired in their own jealousy which often leads to destruction.

Hot Dog Stand, West St. and North Moore, Manhattan.

The problem with history is that it holds plenty of shelf space for both the builders and the destroyers. It doesn’t discriminate between the worthy and the vile, nor should it because we need to learn the lessons we’re not meant to repeat.

If only those who critiqued through creation were more celebrated than those who destroyed.


I cannot possibly fathom why I will spend the rest of my life getting choked up when I pass a baseball field and think of what plays Martin Richard might have designed. I cannot reason why Trayvon Martin doesn’t get to draft new flight patterns as a pilot. Tell me why the city of Cleveland will spend $6M appeasing the family of the late Tamir Rice instead of sending him to college where he could dream, grow, learn, create. Why are the video tools that are supposed to advance our creativity so often used–by necessity–to capture brutal, senseless slayings by police officers or terrorist organizations?

Millions March NYC


The story of Creation that I know begins with a God who always was and always is, who creates from nothing a world meant to be shared and enjoyed by His other beloved creations.

We do not truly create in this life but cull from the resources we are given things shiny and pleasing. We fancy ourselves inventors but we are only simply trying to get back to the Edenic place we began, when all was alive and good. This is the choice we have each day. It is not a choice as to build a block tower or knock someone else’s over. We choose whether we will believe enough in a world that was meant to be life-giving for every man, plant, animal or whether we will be complicit in its destruction. What kind of critics will we be?

Silver Spring #ReclaimMLK Sit-In 17


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Coming close

Doing life with brothers and sisters who do not look, smell, sound, vote, spend money, spend time, sing, chew, dress the way we do is highly detrimental to one’s sense of superiority. Residing next to, working and worshiping alongside, breaking bread with them–what a liability that might invite.

Do not seek out or celebrate diversity in schools, in workplaces, in zipcodes if you want to retain an almighty sense of fear about what might transpire. Set boundaries, gerrymander precincts, build the wall high enough to harbor your own, oh for the love, just worship at the altar of Safety for upon our invented sense of Safety does all wisdom flow.

By no means should you come close to those whom you serve. Under no circumstances should you place yourself in situations where you might be uncomfortable, unappreciated, possibly unarmed.

Pray for the Differents, just don’t try to Make the Difference. Follow the hashtags from a safe distance. For the love, just keep your distance.

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As good as I imagined it: Being recognized

It was as good as I imagined it, friends. A woman came up to me at a restaurant and said, “You look familiar. What’s your Twitter name?” We proceeded to confirm our social media identities. This transaction took place in front of my children, which is important inasmuch as my children, who believe their mother to be a loser who exists only to buy the Uncrustables and to embarrasses them when she has parent chaplain duty, is actually Twitter famous. We made a mom date, the Twitter lady and I. We talked about writer dork things and compared podcast notes. So I made a new friend and my kids think me slightly less of a loser mom. Win win. Go follow my new friend Bethany on the Twitter. She’s fab.

Two ladies enjoying a day out at the races, Ascot racetrack, Brisbane


Earlier in the day, I had entered a court room. I immediately saw a co-worker, who will remain anonymous. It felt good to recognize someone in a sea of strangers, even though none of us would be anonymous for long. We sat and watched the courtroom proceedings. Names were called. Charges were announced. “So public,” my co-worker commented. Some in shackles, some in suits, some in the summer shorts attire. Whatever the uniform, we were supposedly all equals before the law. I stood before the judge of my municipality. He called my name, a name that reminds me that I’m in the South: “Miss Layyy.” Miss Layyy. I squeaked, “Present” and stood in a panel of other lawbreakers. We had driven above the speed limit. We had “forgotten” to brake at a stop sign. Our charges were dismissed, however, given our good driving records. “Except for Miss Layyy. Charges will be dismissed but she must pay cost of court. She was speeding through a school zone and that’s a no-no.” I waited in line with the other perpetrators and handed the clerk my card. I signed my name, she who owned the card, she who did the crime and paid for it, she who wants to be recognized known, just not for a no-no.

Susannah Adamson, arrested for stealing a man's purse

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