Years ago while visiting my great-grandmother, she told me about how she had found a love of painting. She went through some of her artwork and pulled it out to show me her portfolio of oil paintings.
I noticed that the paintings had small stickers on them. During our conversation she told me that she had “updated” her work with these stickers. One picture had little birds and another had penguins.
The reason she put stickers on her work was because she felt a need to change and update her painting. I wonder why would she felt that way?
She gave me one of the oil paintings, that I have posted here. This is a very dark scene in the woods that tells a rustic story of age and simplicity. Notice the blue birds that don’t seem to belong there attached as stickers.
It occurs to me that we (as people) feel forced to update everything. People take new things and make them look old to update them or old things to make them look new to update them. It isn’t simply about something being old or outdated, moreover that it isn’t good enough the way it is. You aren’t good enough the way you are either. We constantly need to upgrade ourselves and change and grow etc.
Let me ask you this? What happens when we put a sticker on you? Maybe it is the certification or the degree or something else but what is underneath is you. It isn’t even that you can hide behind it. As much as the painting could hide behind a blue bird or a penguin.
We need to start thinking about who we are and what we are in terms of our true nature and stop the nonsense of old is new and update and upgrade and trying to cover up the beauty that lies beneath. It is a false requirement to dress up ourselves and our work as something other than what it is. In the case of my great-grandmother, part of her painting was damaged when some of the stickers fell off. It is ironic that she meant to update her work so that it would be of interest and live on and that because of what she did it is essentially ruined and un-presentable. I am concerned that we could share the same fate as her painting, if we allow or believe that we aren’t already good enough the way we are.