When I was a lot younger, for a very short time, I dated the absolute man of my dreams. I thought he was so incredible that I found it hard to talk around him. That’s another story. He was a musician, a songwriter. I remember watching him perform one evening. It was in a cosy little bar with wooden floors. The stage was ringed by fairy lights and he was wearing a green cord jacket that made him look like robin hood with a guitar. I got so swept up in the music that I forgot completely where I was, perhaps in the green wood? It was only when he came and sat with me that I awoke from my reverie.

– What did you think of the new song?

He leant in, so that I had to catch my breath, steady myself and hope that my voice didn’t shake when I spoke. We measured gazes.

– Yeah. It was okay. Um, I dunno maybe the chorus … you could …

He looked away for a moment. The air thickened. He turned back to me.

– You know sometimes people just want to hear that something’s good.

My stomach contracted. The song was fucking incredible, light and melodic yet profound in both a dreamy and dramatic way. Yet, I had wanted to try and say something critical, something worthwhile and in my poor attempt to do that I had missed a fundamental. Lesson learnt.


Another time I traipsed along with a friend and some acquaintances to watch a gig at an IMPORTANT venue in Sydney. Somehow a very young acquaintance of the group had managed to get herself the opening slot for a very famous musician’s musician. She played and sang with self assuredness and a beautiful warmth but unfortunately there was something going on with the sound and it didn’t sound that great. I hung out at the bar, flicked my hair, and said repeatedly,

– Oh my God! That’s awful!

Finally, someone turned to me and said,

– Could you do it? …

My mouth might’ve hung open for a instant. No, of course I couldn’t have done it. Because I had nowhere near that amount of courage and that was mostly where my comments were coming from – the green eyed monster! This girl had put the band together only two months before and there she was – giving it her all. Possibly I couldn’t even imagine the courage that took. Another lesson!

I guess my point here is that it’s pretty easy to stand back and criticize, pick, dig, pull to pieces. What’s not so easy is to be the one putting all that effort, ambition, and honesty out there.

Sometimes, even if it’s not your cup of tea it might be possible to take a step back, think about what it’s taken to achieve, and be SUPPORTIVE. Admire the act. Realize that all these people producing art, stories, events, ideas are really putting themselves out there without which the world would not only be an incredibly dull place, nothing, well pretty much nothing, would ever get done.

So, let’s take every opportunity we get to truly, deeply, be SUPPORTIVE and add to the store of fulfilment and happiness out there … not take away from it.

Just an idea.


About duendest (Tina Cartwright)

Tina Cartwright grew up on the East Coast in the South of New Zealand. She lives and works in Melbourne. Her children’s picture book, Kiwi and Scorpion, was published with Penguin NZ in 2008. She edited and translated Taking Latin America Home – a self-published anthology influenced by Latin America which raised funds for the Sweet Water Fund in Nicaragua.

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