“Sometimes it is difficult to understand why certain things have to happen in our lives. What may be even more difficult to believe is that everything; no matter how seemingly unfair or painful; is part of the larger picture a picture that is being created by a skilled and talented artist who knows exactly what they are doing.” ~ SSHenry
Have you ever watched an artist at work? I’m not talking about the painter dude on PBS who whips his pictures out in a neat half hour show while talking to his audience about technique. I’m talking about a painter who is creating something entirely new; something that has never been seen before; something straight out of their imagination. It’s slow going and sometimes it is not always clear just what they are trying to do. In fact, watching them step by step can be confusing to say the least.
Layers of primer and base coat colors give way to blotchy looking splotches which slowly meld themselves into vibrantly shaded backgrounds and open spaces. Bold, angry looking lines and jagged chunks of seemingly pointless blackness become trees and rocks and valleys.
Sometimes it may seem as if the artist is moving quickly with broad strokes blending colors and creating textures in mere minutes. But then they may let the painting sit for a long period of time while the layers cure, or they may leave one section of the painting to attend to another, leaving the one watching them in frustration as to how things are going to turn out and what exactly it is that is being created.
Sometimes the artist appears to attack the painting, using metal tools to cut through layers of already cured and dried paint in order to lend depth and texture where there was previously only smooth paint. Sometimes they look as if they are attacking the painting with their brush; jabbing angrily at various patches where an object is slowly taking shape. Sometimes the brushes slash; at other times they caress so gently and delicately that you could imagine that the artist is making love to the canvass, and sometimes the artist will use a spray bottle of paint thinner to remove entire sections in order to make room for something else.
Confusing? Yes. Especially for the one watching the painting take shape, but imagine for a moment that you are not merely watching the painting, but that you are the painting.
Doesn’t it feel that way sometimes? Doesn’t it feel as if you are being manipulated by some master craftsman; some talented artist who doesn’t take your wishes into account at all but instead is manipulating the situations, events and people in your life in a way that you can’t even begin to understand?
Shall I tell you a secret?
It’s true. You are being manipulated by a master craftsman; a master artist. Your life is a canvass; a work in progress and I bet if you close your eyes you can feel the brush strokes on your soul; the colors coming together in vibrantly rich tapestries of detailed light and shadow.
You want to know something else? This artist is no stranger. This master artist is no separate and distinct god who is flagrantly manipulating your life for his own purposes.
You are the artist.
You are the artist and the canvass.
You are simultaneously the paint and the brush; the color and the texture; the light and the shadow.
All of it – all of it is you.
Every decision that you make – or don’t make; every action that you take – or don’t take; everything is part of the grand scheme; the big picture that your higher self is crafting out of your life.
You can fight it. Of course you can. You can wail and scream about the unfairness of the knife cutting through your perfectly laid paint layers. You can gnash your teeth about the angry slashes that are marring up your background or the inexplicable color combinations that don’t go with the decorating scheme you chose for your life, or you can accept that there is a reason for what is happening, even if they don’t make logical sense in the here and now.
Or, you can accept that it is all part and parcel of the big picture. You may not yet be able to see the picture in its entirety, but you can feel the canvass under your fingertips and smell the oils in the air and trust that you know what it is that you are doing and that as the painting begins to take shape you will feel things fall into place.
As long as you remember that every joy and ecstasy, every misadventure and painful goodbye and heartwarming hello is a necessary step towards the future that you are creating for yourself; as long as you remember that every personally painful experience and heart wrenching moment is adding shadow and depth to a work of art that would otherwise be flat and uninteresting you will be okay.