I discovered that life is a dance on my first trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I made a right turn and walked into a room full of paintings by Jackson Pollack and Mark Rothko. I was so captivated by the energy emitting from the paintings that I began to cry and dance. (I did receive some strange looks from people, but I didn’t care). Now I’m not an art critic, historian, or curator but you don’t have to be in order to understand and appreciate art. Looking around the room it occurred to me, that life is a dance, just like a Jackson Pollock painting.
I Don’t Get It
The phrase I have heard over and over again when looking at modern art is, “I don’t get it.” Guess what; you don’t have to get it to appreciate it. One of the things that made Jackson Pollock’s work stand out from the crowd was, he dared to take the canvas off of the easel and place it on the floor instead. That one action was like a slap in the head to the art world. A “Duh. Why didn’t I think of that” moment. It’s those simple non-sensical moments when we step out of the box that society constructs for us, that can make all the difference in our lives.
As we stumble our way through life, we forge a path forward that can loop back and trip over a path that was abandoned, only to pick it up again a bit farther down the way. A never-ending weave of moments, opportunities, decisions, actions, and emotions merging to create a masterpiece of wonder that is our life. All unique and one of a kind. There are days we may look closely at it and see an absolute mess, but once you step back and see the whole picture you can observe that life is a poetic dance.
The painted dance is choreographed with a variety of colors and textures that emphasize the diverse range of experiences and challenges that are constantly emerging. We may not always understand events that happen in our lives or feel like we are living in a Franz Kafka novel. But when you take the time to step back and look at the whole, there is a bit of awe and wonder that creeps into your heart.
Off The Easel
Jackson Pollock broke the rules when he placed the canvas on the floor. In my opinion, what really makes a Jackson Pollock painting so intriguing is the thought process or the lack thereof in the creation. He broke from tradition and made it his way. By placing the canvas on the floor, he was able to change perspective in his work process by removing the focal point and opening up a new way of viewing the composition. Not having a specific focal point allowed him to create this ever-moving trajectory of paint trails that leads off the canvas.
We are taught that we must always have a focal point in mind and to set a goal to reach a specific destination. But life and goals are not a straight line from points A to B. There is a complexity of trails, intersections and waypoints a long the road of life that make it interesting and draws us in. It’s not the destination or the focal point that matters, life is about the journey and all the adventures discovered along the way. It may get confusing to the point that we just don’t get it, and we may feel at times that there is no rhyme or reason to the madness or we get so dizzy from the world spinning that we just want to get off. Keep hanging on though, there is a straight away ahead that will give you some breathing room before it ducks and turns again. Then at some point, you will step back and look at the whole picture and not just see a beautiful mess, but a graceful dance instead.
Life Is A Dance
Overall, the comparison between life and a Jackson Pollock painting highlights the idea that life is complex, unpredictable, and constantly changing. It is up to us to navigate the challenges and chaos that obstruct our way. Don’t give up before the painting is done. If something gets in your way, decide to go over it, around it, under it, or plow right through it, or better yet, put it on the floor and dance on it. After all, life is a dance.