Art & Life
I have been staring at Gustav Klimt's The Kiss for the better part of an hour as it hangs prominently on the wall in the office building where I have been working. I have seen this piece several times before, but today my mind drifts into a daydream, weaving a tale about this couple. How long have they know each other? Are that saying hello or kissing good bye? What happened to them after this kiss? One thing is obvious, they are in a moment; one that is certain, sure and clear.
My friend called me earlier to say that his friend, Tony, is getting married. Tony met a young woman whom he quickly became smitten with and got engaged to within a month. Now, Tony is not an impulse man. In fact, he is a bit cynical and oftentimes cautious. But here he is, suddenly emphatic about getting married to this woman and very sure. His Facebook status has been abruptly changed from single to "engaged." Wow.
My friend and I discuss impulse, whims and getting caught up in the moment. How can he be so certain so soon? Shouldn't you take time in making decisions, to be "sure?" But is time always the key to being certain? I know some people who met and married their spouse almost overnight and who now have children and several years under their belt. Were they just fools lucky enough to avoid being devoured by their own stupidity? Other people I know are never certain of anything and spend their lives pondering the same possibilities over and over, like a cow chewing its cud.
I found this book called, On Being Certain: Believing You're Right, Even When You're Not. It theorizes that for the human mind, certainty is a mental sensation like love, anger or pride, rather than evidence of fact. In essence, the feeling of knowing is something that comes to us naturally, we can not make it happen.
Perhaps it simply feels good to the human spirit to feel certain about something or someone, even if that does not mean absolute truth. I wonder, Can certainty eliminate regret? After all, how can you look back and say you shouldn't have acted on something if you were so certain in the first place?
I was once speaking to this artist in SoHo who was displaying his work for sale. I asked him about his process; how he came to achieve a certain confluence of texture and image. He told me, "I never truly know what the painting will look like or how it will turn out. I can have an idea and a hope, but the only thing I am certain of, is that I must paint it."
Does an artist know that a painting will be a masterpiece before he even puts the brush to canvas, or is he only sure that he must make that first stroke? And who decides that a painting is a masterpiece anyway?
Perhaps there are appropriate times to act from certainty, like there are appropriate times to act from love, pride or courage...and then there are those times when it is best to have these feelings and definitely not act from them. The key is learning to tell the difference.
I hope to be certain about many more things in my life. Not right, just certain. It seems, at times, that the feeling of certainty can be a blessing, one that will give you the assurance to take the next step in your journey.