I have always loved impressionism – the idea that you can take little brushstrokes, that are just small blobs of paint acting as tiny puzzle pieces in a masterpiece, is amazing to me.
I once had the opportunity to go to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. They had a section of impressionist paintings. I was in heaven! I studied those little blobs of paint in wonder. There were deliberate movements in each brushstroke – where the brush first touched the canvas, where the paint came off the brush in different amounts, and where the brush was lifted. Thousands of little brushstroke blobs of paint that seemed so awkward and unrelated to each other were entrancing.
One painting in particular really struck me. When I stood back and looked at it, the painting was of ships in a harbor and the surrounding area, but the closer I got, the more it looked like a huge mess. Those individual blobs of paint seemed to have no purpose at all. Just randomly smacked on there. Not even the colors made sense. Some strokes were vertical, some horizontal. Just a mess.
As I stood there looking at it and trying to make it make sense, I started tearing up. If my heart and soul were a painting, it would be this one.
Each of these little blobs was a different part of my life. As I experience things, it is hard to understand why each experience is happening. It is so easy to stay focused on that experience and question everything about it. Why is this happening? What good could possibly come of this? We can let ourselves get caught up in that single experience, wading in a single blob of paint, and not have any idea what is actually being painted. But if we let ourselves take a mental step back from what we’re experiencing, we can start to see the meaning in it. The blobs seem smaller, and shift until they fit with the pieces around them. Then it becomes clear that there is a bigger plan for us than just sinking in individual blobs. We can see that the little experiences combine to make us a whole masterpiece.
All of the things we experience, especially the little daily things, the choices we make, the things we focus on and spend our energy on – these are the brushstrokes that leave the blobs that make up who we are. It’s ok if we have crappy days; it’s just one little blob. There’s no need to get so caught up in every little thing. Make your choices, and then stand back and see the whole picture. You’ll be amazed at what you’ve become!
The best part by far, is that we are all a work in progress! Your canvas only expands with time. You can make those blobs any color, size, or direction you want. If something isn’t the way you want, then choose to make the blobs around it so great that you can’t even tell there was a mistake. When we step back, look at the big picture, you can decide to keep making your life the beautiful picture it is meant to be.
Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (La Bonne-Mère), Marseilles, 1905–6