Waiting to live.

It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.

Waiting is a state of mind. Basically, it means that you want the future; you don’t want the present. You don’t want what you’ve got, and you want you haven’t got. With every kind of waiting, you unconsciously create inner conflict between your here and now, where you don’t want to be, and the projected future, where you want to be. This greatly reduces the quality of your life by making you lose the present.

Eckhart Tolle

 

Frida!

Frida Kahlo.

The owner of the most recognisable unibrow in history. Everyone knows Frida Kahlo; at least they know her aesthetic, but few of us knew anything about the woman.

It is a strange thing to get to know someone on a more intimate level, even if it is through a documentary. To go beyond the pretty art and get to know their thoughts and lives. I cannot listen to Nina Simone the same way I did before watching What Happened, Miss Simone? 

The documentary I watched is called The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo. Before watching it, I knew little about Frida Kahlo. I barely knew that she was a painter. I could not recognise her art. I did not know that she was/is famed for her self portraits. I did not know of her tempestuous relationship with the great love of her life: Diego Rivera. I did not know of how painful her life was.

Frida was born to a German father and a Mexican mother. She grew up in the age of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and was shaped by the horrors and struggles of the time. At times, she and her sister had to be hidden in a walnut chest while her mother cooked for the bandits. When she was young, she contracted polio and was bedridden for a while. In 1925, at 18 years old, she was in a terrible accident. She was in a wooden bus with her husband at the time, Alejandro, when a trolley car collided with it. To paraphrase Alejandro, the trolley kept pushing the bus, running over a lot of people, until the bus burst into many pieces. Frida, impaled by an iron handrail, lay in the street. The handrail had entered her on one side and come out on the other. Her clothes were removed by the collision, and a packet of gold powder had been spilled across her bleeding body. Her entire body was fractured: her spine and pelvis in three places, her leg in eleven. This accident would go on to plague her life causing her untold pain, until her body finally gave up in 1954. Possibly the worst consequence of the accident was that it affected her reproductive capability and left her unable to bear children.

Frida started to paint seriously during her recovery, and she painted herself and her thoughts. Her paintings were so poignant, and this one painted after a miscarriage is my favourite one. It needs no explanation.

vlcsnap-2016-01-02-23h53m53s194

It is easy to idolise a person without giving much thought to the agony the person faced in life. I am awed by the fact that she managed to achieve so much while under such physical discomfort.

My second favourite painting.

vlcsnap-2016-01-02-14h22m11s241

Frida with Diego Rivera. He was almost 20 years older than her, and was notoriously unfaithful. He even had an affair with her sister. Still they loved each other deeply, divorcing briefly and remarrying.

vlcsnap-2016-01-02-23h12m51s179vlcsnap-2016-01-02-23h40m34s161

When her body started to fail, and she couldn’t walk anymore.

vlcsnap-2016-01-03-08h28m43s88

At her funeral.

vlcsnap-2016-01-03-08h39m30s186

I am beginning to think that art is synonymous with pain. A lot of the greatest creative minds have endured great sorrow in their lives. I guess all that genius has to be sourced from somewhere, and pain is a more effective driver than happiness.

One thing I wonder is if the subjects of these documentaries would have consented to their diaries being read out to the public. It is quite powerful getting into their heads, and I do appreciate that. Still, I wonder if they would be okay with it.It is such a violation of privacy.

I tried my hardest to find a video of her talking but I couldn’t. I so badly want to hear her voice. The voice of the woman who spoke as Frida in the documentary bothered me at first, but then I grew to love it, and now associate that voice with Frida. Although I couldn’t find a video of her speaking, this one here shows her moving around and interacting with Diego. It is obvious that she adored him.

 

I have never wanted to paint as much as I did/do after watching the documentary. Alas, I have no painting talent.

Shortly before her death, she wrote the following in her diary:

“I hope the exit is joyful 

and I hope never to return 

— Frida”.

Experiment with your life.

You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too. I think there was too rigid a pattern. You came out of an education and are supposed to know your vocation. Your vocation is fixed, and maybe ten years later you find you are not a teacher anymore or you’re not a painter anymore. It may happen. It has happened. I think we have a right to change course. But society is the one that keeps demanding that we fit in and not disturb things. They would like you to fit in right away so that things work now.

Anais Nin

I’m just as strange as you

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

Frida Kahlo

Lessons

In life I have learned that one can be perfectly well behaved, do everything right, follow the right path, and all that will go to shit because of one mistake. All it takes is one misstep to mar it all. One can be a model human for years, living on the straight and narrow, and then will do something that will come to define one for the rest of one’s life. All the good that one has done will not matter. All of the times one has shunned bad in favour of good will become irrelevant. All of the good decisions will be forgotten. All that will matter is that one failed or messed up this one time, and that will become one’s defining mark. One’s person will be tarnished, because of this thing.

The journey never ends. There is always time to make a mistake. One cannot afford to relax, or be caught off guard.

On transience: This too shall pass.

Once in boarding school, we were served spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. I popped one meatball into my mouth and it was awful. I knew I would not be able to chew it any further, and as I was on a table filled with people, I became quite perplexed on what to do. I told myself something along the lines of “Don’t worry, soon it will be tomorrow and you will have overcome this somehow.” It was unlikely that I would still be debating over what to do with the meatball the next day, so somehow I would have to get over it. Eventually I covertly spit it out into a tissue and lived happily ever after.

The thought that uncomfortable, awkward situations are not permanent, and that by tomorrow I would have overcome them somehow, became one of my guiding mottos. I would find my self in a weird situation and think “well this situation will have to resolve itself somehow, it is unlikely I will still be here tomorrow.” It was not until a few years later, that I found an already existing saying that captured this perfectly “This too shall pass.”

Difficult situations are inevitable, and some have them more than others. We will find ourselves in situations far worse than a nasty meatball, situations which persist for more than a day. I believe that the reason we are so consumed by bad moments is that we are unable to see past them. In that moment, that is all that matters, and we fail to see that they are temporary. I do believe that if we knew for sure that a certain situation would last for say, three weeks, and then everything will be fine, we would be less affected by said situation.

A good example is people who harm/kill themselves after a breakup. (Here, I am not referring to those who suffer from depression or mental illness.) These people are unable to see past their current grief, to them the world has ended and there is no respite. But that is not true. How many times have we been in situations that seemed so awful at the time, but that we look back on and laugh at how inconsequential they really were? How many times have we thought the world had ended, only to realise it hadn’t even begun?

It is so important to realise that this too shall pass. It may take a while, but eventually it will. Realise that you will in fact get over whatever it is, and you will heal and feel better. Good times will come, bad times will come. C’est la vie. That’s the transience of life. Do not make rash decisions over temporary circumstances. Go through bad times, always remembering that this too shall pass.