The Picasso Effect

Art is weird, right?

I mean, it’s the expression and perspective of one person at one time in space. So, it is completely dependent on how their ability, ideas, and experiences will shape their work. (Note: This is why that dog on a spaceship that your 3-year-old nephew drew doesn’t really look like a dog on a spaceship. But you’ll hang it on the fridge anyway).

And that first element, ability, is the really important part of art. What good is an artist if he or she cannot render how the world really is as well as what the artist perceives?

Well, actually, it turns out, that artist can still be pretty darn good if he or she does not adhere strictly to the rules of reality. Take Picasso. See Exhibit van Gogh. Look at Monet. Just because they didn’t paint in a realistic style does not mean they couldn’t. In fact, they needed a core understanding of how to paint “well” in order to deviate completely from the straight forward, photorealistic self-portraits of the time. If they had stuck to their basic skills learned in any class, they would have created art. Instead, they chose to strip away all of their knowledge and so made masterpieces.

Let me give you a more concrete and less abstract (art) example. I know how to dress to fit in. I know what make up to wear. I know what hair style is current. I know all of this because it is being forced down my throat in every media outlet, but I also know this because other people are reinforcing it for me by the way they style themselves as well. In the end, I could easily put on the right clothes, the right make-up, and do my hair the right way, and I might be considered by popular media to be “pretty.”

But I reject striving for “prettiness.” Instead, I strive for “me,” and my own truth, whatever that may be, and yes, my own truth sometimes eclipses with popular media’s desires for me (van Gogh did craft a self-portrait, after all), but mostly I try to step out of the box that people try to put me in, the same box that they try to stuff Picasso, van Gogh, and Monet in when they told them that they were not making art.

The basic point is that I know all too well how to fit in. I would have no trouble doing so, like a leaf floating down a fast-moving stream. It is that I choose not to.

Whenever you rebel against the norm, it is the Picasso Effect at work. It is simply doing what is different and new at the cost of your own personal comfort and the comfort of those around you. (Because when you aren’t doing what people expect, they get uncomfortable real fast.)

My only hope for you is that you will effect to the highest degree of Picasso, whenever faced with the choice to do so. That you will acknowledge your teachings but abandon them in favor of your own vision, irregardless of your ability. In the end, my one hope is that you will stay true to yourself no matter what the cost.

 

Permission to be Unpretty

Let’s get something straight tonight, okay everyone?

You should feel pretty. No one should make you feel unpretty. In whatever form that takes. Take the selfie (or don’t). Put on the make-up (or don’t). Do your hair (or don’t). Wear nice clothes (or don’t). Whatever makes you feel most comfortable in your own skin (sometimes quite literally) you should do. Your life is too short to worry about how many likes/marriage proposals your photos get on Facebook (or not).

Okay. That’s a nice reminder, but that’s not what I wanted to get straight: I need everyone to remember that it is more than okay to be unpretty.

That is, you don’t actually have to be or feel beautiful all of the time. I mean, there is absolutely something about everyone that is beautiful. But you don’t have to acknowledge it every time you feel like you need to acknowledge your worth. (Well, I have nice legs, so that means I’m a decent human being, right?)

Really, why isn’t it enough to be smart, or generous, or organized? (Oh, that’s right. Because you can’t easily convey that through an Instagram picture.)

And don’t get me wrong, it’s totally fine if you take pride in your looks. But the fallout is ridiculous. I pull up my hood and hiss at people when I’m out in public without any make-up on so they don’t look at me too closely. I try to stand up straight and look sufficiently bored but pretty when waiting in line at Starbucks. I treat every sidewalk like a runway. Just because I’ve been taught that I need to be attractive to other people at all times. Just because the media has told me that men and women are supposed to be desirable, always.

But do you know what I would really like to do? I would like to just look like myself. And not worry about the way the light is hitting me, or if my make-up is smudged, or if I have resting b**** face. I would like the permission to be unpretty (or at least not worry if I’m beautiful or not).

And so, since I believe that you too would like the permission to be unpretty, I’m giving it to you. You don’t have to be perfectly put together all of the time (but go you when you do get it together some of the time.) You don’t have to be camera ready, you should just be ready for anything. And of course, you don’t always have to be or feel beautiful. You should just be and feel.

You’re alive and that’s enough.

Isn’t It Pretty to Think So?

Do you ever get the feeling that people are in love with the idea of life, but not life itself?

That we’re all waiting for someone to start filming our lives so that we can play out the scene and deliver our lines? That we’re all waiting for our boss to say something really snarky because we have the perfect comeback? That we’re all waiting for our significant other to break up with us so we can stereotypically eat ice cream and binge watch Dirty Dancing? That we’re all waiting for it to rain so that we can kiss someone in it? That we’re all waiting to take a cruise so we can stand at the helm with our arms out like Kate Winslet?

It’s like we’re all waiting for our lives to look like something. Waiting for them to be “perfect.”

I like to refer to this idea as “Isn’t It Pretty to Think So?.” Stolen from Hemingway, it simply encapsulates the idea that life is really poetic, but we still try to force it into something that is meaningful to us.

I mean, it is really beautiful how most things in life come together in a way that you would have never expected but should have expected all along. And yet we still spend so much time trying to force the pieces into place, gluing everything down so that it doesn’t blow into the breeze, even though the breeze is what will guide us, if we let it.

I see a lot of people fall under the spell of “Isn’t It Pretty to Think So?” when they fall in love with someone new, and they think that they’re perfect together because they both like corn dogs and they both love to talk about how bad the last season of American Horror Story was. But I also see people who build up events or experiences in their head until they could not possibly go the way they had planned, even if it wasn’t just “pretty to think” that it would go a certain why.

So, how do you avoid thinking pretty? You simply remember that your life isn’t a Hemingway novel. Or a Fitzgerald novel. Or a Shakespearean play. Or a Quentin Tarantino film (thank goodness?). You write your own life, from beginning to end. And it’s messy, and confusing, and frustrating, and weird, and terrific, and great, and inspiring, and depressing, and glorious.

And oh yeah, it is also always, always perfect, no matter how bad or good it seems.