Michelangelo, Van Gogh and Picasso were undoubtedly some of the greatest artists of their time. Of course, this gift came with a cost. As people, they were less than perfect, they and many other great painters throughout history were labelled as eccentric, insane, alcoholic or in a complicated relationship with personal hygiene. Despite all these setbacks, they did one thing right. And that was to create beautiful masterpieces that stood the test of time.
So what does all of this have to do with figuring out our own lives?
How many times have you found yourself stressed and anxious because of a thing that bothered you at work? You try to ignore it hoping it will go away but it just seems to stay there, warming up slowly until it reaches boiling point. Or that one time you confessed your undying love to your crush only to get your heart broken and spin into a downward spiral of overanalyzing what’s wrong with you. Or that one time you wrote that beautiful cover letter only to be lost in the black hole of never replied to e-mails, leaving you to doubt everything you ever did until that point.
See if you look at any of the masterpieces created by a great artist, dead or alive, you will find lots of imperfections and irregularities. Brush strokes that are wobbly, lines that don’t make sense, ugly colors that don’t mean anything on their own. But somehow when it all gets added up together it makes sense in the end. It evokes an emotion, a special feeling or just a simple appreciation for the art in front of you. The individual parts of the painting might not make sense but the whole picture does.
In life, as in art, the beauty is not in the individual brush strokes but in the big picture.
Sometimes you need to take a step back and look at the overall painting. Maybe you’ll see that the fundamental theme of what you are creating is totally misaligned and wrong. Or maybe you see that despite minor glitches here and there, you are still on track.
Before you can figure out what the next brush stroke should be you need to understand where you are and where you want to go.
Replay an event from your past when you were upset or anxious. Looking back at it now you might realize how foolish it was to be consumed by all of it. The imperfections, the ugly brush strokes, the messy colors – they all don’t matter. The secret to kicking ass in life is to act like an eccentric painter. Despite all your defects and the messy brush strokes here and there, focus on the big picture.
Create a life that people will label later as being a masterpiece.