a : a change in form or appearance : metamorphosis. b : an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change.
The day before Thanksgiving was a seminal moment for the Bailey family as we ventured with our three youngest children to the Wexner Center for Arts Museum, on the campus of The Ohio State University, to view the museum’s art exhibit entitled Transfigurations, and to see the works of Picasso. OK, maybe seminal is a tad bit much – my nine year old son, Addison, immediately inquired upon arrival: “how long are we were going to be here?” My other nine year old boy, Ryan – they’re not twins; it’s a long story – wanted to know why we were going to art school?
My kids are geniuses.
As I was saying, we went to the museum with the wonderful anticipation of seeing the Wexner Family Collection of art, and the Picasso masterpieces within their collection that had been created over a stretch of 60 plus years. There were other artists on display as well, artist like Giacometti, Willem de Kooning, Dubuffet, and Edgar Degas, artist of high regard and immense talent in their own right. In particular, I’ve become an admirer of Alberto Giacometti and his bronze statues. But, in the end, it was the works of art by Picasso that were ‘awesome’ to my children and an awe-inspiring to my wife and I.Le chien (dog) | Alberto Giacometti – 1951
Picasso is my favorite artist.
In some irrational form of thinking; one deluded and devoid of reality that can only give credence and credible evidence to a powerful form of psychosis that inhibits my mental structure, I often think of Picasso as an dear old friend, someone I’ve know for sometime. A friend that depresses me when I view his masterful work because I realize that I will never create something – anything – so magnificent and significant, so perfect and powerful as his works of art. I know, crazy, right?
True talent, genius talent has a way of announcing to our sub-conscious and conscious our limitless limitations. It has the ability to clearly define our mediocrity, and remind us how average we are. At least that is the reoccurring conversation I have with myself.“Garcon in blue” (Boy in blue) | Pablo Picasso -1905
In the same way that I’m drawn to Picasso I’m also drawn to Sting and his music. His music and lyrics are at times like old friends that I’ve grown up with and together have journeyed. He two reminds me how mediocre I am.
But not all is lost.
Picasso is also like an old friend who constantly challenges my thinking and feelings in many different ways. Viewing his art this past week was no different, in that it tested my thinking once again. This time it demanded me to reflect on what will be my life’s work? Will it have value, and will it inspire others? The real question I asked of myself was could I create a masterpiece with my life? Can I raise my children to do the same with their lives?“Little dancer aged fourteen” | Edgar Degas -1881
Important questions indeed, important because we know there will be times, moments in our lives, that will challenge our resolve and determine our destiny. They will carry with them the ability to destroy our dreams, and ruin our masterpiece.
That is not to say there won’t be good times. There will be many great moments in our lives.
There will be times when life will spoil you with sunshine splashing down on your face, and splendidly touch the ground beneath your feet giving you sure footing. You will walk as if you were walking on the moon, where ease and no effort are your comfortable companions. It is during these times you will glide through life while everyone and everything appears to be moving in slow motion. It is during these times I’m reminded of the words once spoken by Paul Simon: “I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”
These are the good times, the great times if we recognize them as so.
There will also be times when life will carelessly bury you under a rock, or effortlessly paint you in a corner. There will be times that life, like a mad mother, will call you by your first, middle, & last name. It will scream with a powerful and paralyzing voice rendering you hopeless and helpless. Fear will take residence in your soul like an unwanted house guest. In the end, it will seem to be unbearable, or worse yet, it will be unbearable. T.S Eliot once said that life is very difficult.
I believe him to be telling the truth.
M. Scott Peck said it this way: “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
I believe him to be telling the truth as well.“Tete de femme” (Portrait of Dora Maar) | Pablo Picasso – 1939
At this time of pain tears will touch your face that will taste like defeat and smell like fear. Your tears will come from a place that somehow realizes that you didn’t become what you wanted to become – that is the defeat, and there will also be a simultaneous feeling that it’s too late to become what you hoped you would become- that is the fear.
It will be at this point that we’ll begin to understand and accept the fact that failure is like wearing a shirt without buttons. We all where the garment of humanness where our dreams and aspirations are covered with the cloth of hope and faith, and the threads we wear are stitched with success and gain, failure and loss; colored with the deepest hues of pride and insecurity, but sadly we soon realize it’s the strength of our failures that will leave our chest bare for the world to see.
Hopefully, during this moment you will remember the concept of human nature, and your own humanness.
People will be people, and most people like to talk- talk a lot. Most people like to share dirt more than they like cleaning it up. Like I said, it’s human nature. People will always find ways to share your defeat and failings, to ridicule you for your humanness and deride you for the darkness & sin in your heart; a darkness and sin that every human being was born with.
People will try to define you by your failures, imperfections, and weaknesses.
With little thought or attention to detail they will poorly and improperly categorize you. Their “placing” of you in life’s pecking order beneath them enables them to feel a sense superiority and accomplishment for somehow figuring you out. Even if your work is grand and your accomplishment is profound certain people will minimize it to produce yet again a feeling of superiority, or at the very least feelings of equality.
People like this find parity to be a good neighbor, and mediocrity a home to be comfortably lived in.
It will be at this time, after reflection and self evaluation, and denying the so called gospel of others, we will fortunately realize that our failures and success don’t ultimately define us, but our life’s work is predicated upon how we treated others, and how close we came to becoming all we could become. For these two things will give testimony to our life’s work, and will determine the fate of how our life will be judged by our peers.“Pink Lady” | Willem de Kooning – 1944
So it will be, after reflection and self evaluation, after the harmful judgement of other people, you’ll arrive at a moment when defeat and fear surround you at every turn. It will be at this moment when you will have to decide if you’re going to live or die. At that very moment, as you travel down a road without any other travelers to be seen, all alone, where the open land stretches as far as the eye can see, and where the dust seen from your rear-view mirror collects in the air like ocean spray, you will ask yourself: “what’s next?” The beauty is you get the opportunity to choose next; the tragedy is some never get the chance to choose what comes next. “Next’ is a gift waiting to be accepted and opened.
It will be with the question what’s next that your life will begin or end. It is at this point the transfiguration and transformation of your soul will take place, or your dreams for the future will be drowned. Remember, don’t let your failure take away your next. Be mindful, transfiguration’s can be grand; they too can become your masterpiece – Matthew 17.
In the end, it will be on this road, not knowing where this path will lead, with dust clouds of doubt swirling in the air, and the hot summer rays of mediocrity intensely beating down on the rooftop of your life, you will decide to paint a masterpiece with your life or continue to die; living a rough draft of what you could’ve become. At this very moment you will either softly smile with tears confidently building or you will silently anguish over what might have been.
Those will be the only two options you will be left with.
It is at this time you will decide to either sink or swim, stand or fall. You will lift your head and open your eyes or you will collapse into the fetal position; rejecting any hope. It is at these times we will decide the fate of our future, the direction of our destiny, and the shape, the scope of our life’s story.
It is at this time we will decide to live out a rough draft of our life or to press forward and create a masterpiece with our life. The choice will be ours. The choice will always be ours.
1619Shape of My Heart . Sting iTunes | Spotify