I was listening to a flute CD that someone had sent me. It was an exuberant, openhearted expression of pure joy. To the discerning – might I say critical – mind it did not conform to the established standards of ‘good music’. But it’s limitations in that respect was more than compensated for by its enthusiasm. The Native American style flute is helping to liberate many of us from our habit of evaluating and criticizing everything. Especially as this behavior applies to self-criticism.

Why can’t we just relax and have fun? Why are we so hard on ourselves? The culture of correctness and perfection has taken the fun out of life. Playing the flute or expressing our selves in any way must be based on freedom from fear of criticism, especially self-criticism. Otherwise we’re perpetually caught in the spot light. Everyone is looking. And if we don’t do it right there will be a price to pay. That price is self-respect. Holding ourselves up to impossible standards or other people’s standards means that we are always setting ourselves up to fail. We live under a dark cloud of our own creation. Actually, we didn’t create it.

It started when we were children. Constant criticism of our performance. We were always doing it wrong. Who doesn’t? Life is a learning process in which we must have the freedom to make mistakes without fear of criticism. Nobody gets if right all the time – or even most of the time. Practice, practice, practice - until we end up hating what we are doing. We may become good at it but we’re not having fun anymore. So what’s the point?

In tune? We can become so devoted to being in tune we’re dead to joy. Making a fetish out of playing it right is like wanting the sun to shine the same way every day. ‘That’s the way it should shine’ say the purists. Not too bright. Not too dull. Just this way and this way only. What if I like it a little brighter? What if I don’t care? Who dares set the standards for what is the right amount of sunlight for a sunny day?

When we whole-heartedly grant others the right to do it any way they please or are capable of we can be released from our own self-criticism. Life is a Circle of such diversity that there is room for everyone. Let the breath of life go out through your flute into a receptive world. You can change your life and the world one song at a time.