Don’t Stand Too Close to the Art

Yesterday, I stood in front of Picasso’s Woman With a Violin. No matter how long I stared, I could barely make out the instrument among the sea of cubes, let alone the woman. Eventually, I snapped a photo of the painting, then moved on.

Back home, I went through my pictures, and lo and behold: From the more distant perspective, both the woman and violin were perfectly clear.

Sometimes, we’re too close to something to see the beauty that’s in it. A tired waiter might miss the deep gratitude resting in a customer’s smile. A frustrated parent may forget how far her daughter has come. And an art dealer doing too many transactions may no longer be able to spot what’s special about a painting.

That’s life. It happens. We all get too deep into the weeds from time to time. But when we realize it, we can also take a step back. Get the distance we need, be it in time or in space, to once again see what the (big) picture is truly about.

You’re not a cynic, unappreciated, or incompetent. Try again tomorrow. Pick a different angle. Chances are, you’re just standing too close to the art.