W@TW*: Channeling Picasso

I am fortunate to live in a city that has free art museums. On Sunday, my husband and I went to one of them for about an hour.  The beauty of the museum being free is that you can visit frequently for a shorter amount of time.   In the past, I would want to get my monies worth, stay for hours and "Od'd" on the art work.


Yesterday we participated in a short tour of the collection given by a volunteer.  Because we were near on the calendar to St. Valentine's Day, the theme of the tour was love.  We only looked at four exhibits, each representing love in a different way.  The last stop on the tour was a painting by Pablo Picasso: his 1922 "Mere et enfant" or "Mother and Child".  According to the docent, Picasso painted this after his cubism period, after his marriage, after fathering a child and after he had spent some time in Rome studying the masters.  It was the return to a period of realism for him. 

What is interesting is that the oil painting seems just like a sketch with watercolor highlights. The oil is so soft and light. He uses an economy of line but conveys a realistic portrait nonetheless.  For such a giant in ushering us into the modern art era, Picasso demonstrates that he is his own man; he has his own way of going forward in art.  He uses as inspiration his life circumstances or things around him and he incorporates it into his artwork.  He doesn't get buttonholed into being a certain type of artist who paints a certain type of style.  He is always growing, changing,  and moving forward. He does so by allowing his ideas to expand and following where they lead. 

As www.biography.com notes: 

"Pablo Picasso remains renowned for endlessly reinventing himself, switching between styles so radically different that his life's work seems to be the product of five or six great artists rather than just one. Of his penchant for style diversity, Picasso insisted that his varied work was not indicative of radical shifts throughout his career, but, rather, of his dedication to objectively evaluating for each piece the form and technique best suited to achieve his desired effect. "Whenever I wanted to say something, I said it the way I believed I should," he explained. "Different themes inevitably require different methods of expression. This does not imply either evolution or progress; it is a matter of following the idea one wants to express and the way in which one wants to express it."

It inspires me to keep going forward in whatever the endeavor- to observe the world around me and to incorporate what I see and say it "the way I believed I should".  Picasso reminds me to be confident and take chances. 

What about you?  Do you feel that you have grown and changed in your life?  Personally?  Professionally? 

* W@TW= Wednesdays at the Well. Of course this week it is F@TW because I had difficulty this week getting this post out.  More on that later.  But for some reason writing F@TW seems like an expletive or some type of tweet.

The Smallest Thing

Yesterday as I was mowing the lawn I came to an impasse.  Try as I might I could not get the mower to move forward and the blades to turn.  

We belong to the small subset of home owners who choose to use a push mower for cutting their lawn.  It is true that a gasoline powered mower does cut the grass with a cleaner look. Since we don't subscribe to the weedless, movie set green grass lawn, the push mower is fine.  Using the mower gives us a nice little workout, doesn't emit any carbon and it tucks in nicely into a corner of our shed.   

As I was trying to push the mower forward I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was holding it up.  I stopped, looked over the blade, tried turning it the other direction but to no avail.  It was only when I turned the mower on its side did I notice a small piece of mulch wedged between one of the blades and the safety cross piece on the bottom.  That little dickens of wood was holding up all the blades from turning.

Had me wondering what little things in my life impede me from moving forward?  Are there small habits, seemingly harmless friendships or activities that are keeping me in a stand still?  Are there well intended activities that are just in the wrong context or wrong timing? Are they items that I don't even notice but just wonder why I can't move on? 

Mulch is a good thing.  It helps with water retention, weed control and overall makes a garden seemed finished.  It is just that when it is not in its proper place in the garden bed but instead is on the lawn then there is potential for just what happened; it gets tossed up in the blades and can jam the mower. 

Lately I have been wondering why I cannot move forward with a certain writing project.  In the past I was moving along with great speed but now I feel that every turn, every movement and every attempt to push along with it is met with resistance.  I need to remind myself to stop, assess what is impeding my process, remove the obstacle and continue along. 

What about you?  Do you find yourself not being able to move forward in a situation? Is there something preventing you from just beginning? Or have you come to a complete stop in the middle?  Have you checked it from all sides- does the impediment come from you or an outside source?  Is it something that you can remove?  Is it something that you need to avoid? 

Sometimes the smallest thing can be the biggest blockage to accomplishment. 


Moving Forward

Today on the radio there was a piece about NASA and their plans for colonizing Mars.  Very interesting.  Once again NASA is looking at a problem in a different way.  They are trying to answer the question "how to build habitable space in an hostile environment" similarly to building habitats  in remote areas on this planet.  

The part of the piece that caught my attention  was the personal story of Charles Bolden the first African American NASA administrator.  He grew up in segregated South Carolina and when he was in high school was having difficulty getting any appointment to any military academy. As he tells his story, he doesn't sound bitter but states the facts of the time- segregation and all it entailed with the white legislators from his state.   Through the help of President Lyndon Johnson he was able to secure a position at the Naval Academy and went on with a career as a Marine Corps aviator, then astronaut and finally NASA administrator. 

Even though Strom Thurmond did not help his state constituent in the initial position, Senator Thurmond did write personal congratulatory notes to Charles Bolden with every milestone Bolden achieved.  Charles Bolden sounded like he had forgiven Senator Thurmond and has moved on with his life.

He says he took this [congratulatory letters] to mean that people are capable of changing. "Even people who seem to be evil or seem to be bad, deep down inside they know what's right and they want to do it and they will try to find a way to make good things happen," Bolden said. 

What a great story of recognition of the complexities of people and the capability of forgiveness. Even reading this I was taken by surprise, for neither Strom Thurmond nor President Johnson are my favorite politicians.  Recognizing that of course they were life long politicians which means everything done is calculated for self benefit, yet I was surprised that they would make a point of helping and following a young man. Just goes to show how people will surprise you and do the right thing as Bolden states. 

Makes me wonder about the people I know and have known- those who I have either written off or those who I have tuned out because I don't like their beliefs or policies.  Perhaps I need to revisit the relationship- listen to them, hear their side of the story and make the effort to restore some type of communication, either through reconsidering their beliefs (as in the case of public figures) or in reaching out (as in the case of former friends and acquaintances).  Either way I need to settle the matter in my heart, not to be quick to judge and to be open to change and possibilities.  

I think one of the reasons Charles Bolden has become who he is and has accomplished what he has done (besides being incredibly intelligent and brave) is that he appears to be a person who goes about life with an open mind and heart.  He isn't weighed down by  past baggage but has the freedom to move forward.  It is not that he started a deep relationship with Senator Thurmond but that he, Charles Bolden didn't let any bitterness from the past shape his future. 

What about you?  Are there people in your life you may need to reconsider?  Are there people who seem to have "done you wrong"?   How can you keep an open mind for change and possibilities? For yourself and for the other person?  How can you lighten the load of your past so that you can have the freedom to embrace your future?