It’s my belief that all profound art is just as ugly as it is beautiful. Observe any famous piece of art, and I can guarantee there will be something in it that you both hate and love. “Why is she wearing that?”, you might say. “Brown was not a good colour choice. Completely ruins the work.”
I use brown as an example based on the title of this post… Brown is the colour of shit.
Coincidentally, after I had drafted Show Them the Shit, in one of my applied character classes we collectively came up with the term “enjoy the mess”. The context is rooted in going against making ‘safe’ acting choices – and instead to not only make bold choices, but equally to thrive off of the chaos they create.
I laugh sometimes at how throwaway mantras like “enjoy the mess” are so much easier said than done. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all just get up, carefree, and detach ourselves so simply from judgement?
Nonetheless, this is the goal.
It’s astonishing how almost every life pathway leads to the same golden desire; whether through the practice of meditation, prayer, positive thinking, or all three, we all seem to be seeking a more enlightened life. One where we can go forth without fear of failure, hurt or regret, recognising that all of the above are compulsory if we are to transcend into our best versions.
So what I’ve learnt is this: life is better when you aren’t afraid to show people the shit. When you can be so aware of and open about the ugliness in you, you can thence discover the gorgeousness in you.
No great poem, play, TV show or portrait is all flowers and rainbows; doom and gloom. It will reveal to you just as much of the world’s shit as it does its beauty. Ever seen a pretty painting of a country setting, admired it, but been unmoved by it? Unable to understand its relevance?
That is probably because the artist played it too safe to ever show you the shit. It would have been too disturbing to show you the fox ripping the rabbit apart alive limb by limb so they simply omitted it from the otherwise alluring rural view – resulting in a censored edition of real life.
Because the truth is that life is never just light or dark; good or bad; beautiful or ugly—regardless of how much fortune you have. It is a constant ebb and flow in-between. Which is why, on the flip side, art that goes too far in trying to be ugly or depressing or controversial is equally banal – because life is just not one or the other. It ricochets.
If there is one thing that I know for certain, then, it is that living your best life is about showing people the shit regardless of what will happen as a consequence. Producing your best work is about recognising where you are excellent (and where you are shit), and diving into the challenging thing you are facing anyway. If I’d wanted perfection, for example, I might have never posted this blog post out of a fear it could always be better refined; less shit.
When all you ever show is simplistic half-hearted neatness, simplistic half-hearted compliments are all you will receive in return. You have to be prepared to show the shit parts of yourself before other people can pluck out your magnificence.
Only then can you water that bit and watch as it blossoms.