I'm not a big fan of Picasso, I am sorry to say. But when I found myself in Barcelona recently with my 14-year-old daughter, I felt we had to do something other than shop and eat, something redeeming with our time there. And so we went to the Picasso museum of Barcelona, known in Spanish as the Museo Picasso de Barcelona. I am so glad we did.
What is so cool about the Museo Picasso de Barcelona is that it shows Picasso's progression from a child--his very first paintings! Then, as he began going to school for painting and art, you get to see him develop his skills. And as he goes through each and every phase, you can see the heavy influences of other artists of the time whom he either was hanging out with, studying, or wishing he was hanging out with. What is amazing is how much the first half of his life as a painter barely resembles what you would now consider a "Picasso" at all. (What you also learn is that at one point or another, almost every artist draws erotic pictures--whether they get found and saved or not.)
If you picture a Picasso in your mind, I'm sure it's very modern, highly graphic, geometric, and well...Picasso-y. But it was a long, convoluted journey for him to get to that place, and THAT is the best lesson of the Picasso museum.
We tend to see talented people and others as "born this way," to quote Lady Gaga. Their genius seems a miracle pulled from thin air, or perhaps computed from a DNA code (pick your religion here). But what you see is that the genius comes out of the journey itself, which is a journey most people never even begin.
Perhaps we are all born with some sort of genius, which can only be uncovered by pushing boundaries, experimenting with the uncomfortable, breaking the rules, or just plain pushing yourself farther than you thought you could ever go?
Are you awake or asleep in your life? Are you too comfortable? Or worse, are you depressed and trying to ignore it by taking drugs, rather than gouging out the pain (with a paintbrush or a pen)--which is what is required for true healing and truly living an awakened life?
It's a choice we all make every day, to enter into the journey full-force or allow ourselves to be swept along in the sea of sleeping humanity. That is the genius of Picasso and people like him. They show us that there is a reward for pushing those boundaries--even if it's just the pleasure of pushing. While initially the world may ridicule such rebellion, ultimately, the world embraces the truly brave and original (yes, by spending millions and millions of dollars on some paint on a canvas.)
Something tells me we each have a bit of that potential genius in us if we choose it.
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.