Could You Look Happier Please?

By Katie Hake and Elizabeth McNally | 11/10/15 10:13am

-“Let’s write about writer’s block.”
-“No. That’s lame.”
-“You’re lame.”

This week, we came up with zero insights about life #week9. We did, however, come across this video of an accurate representation of our friendship (Who is the emu and who is the dog? We think we alternate). As a result, Elizabeth blitzed Katie a bunch of inspirational quotes to choose from, then ended up just picking one herself anyway. It’s about painting, which is relevant because Elizabeth is in Painting I this term. Katie had no idea how to relate to this quote but did her best to try.

Don't be an art critic. Paint. There lies salvation.

Elizabeth: Cezanne is an artist, and he might very well have meant this literally. He might have meant that if whomever he was talking to would literally spend their time painting, it would make them feel better because it made him feel better. And Cezanne, I’m with you. Painting makes me feel better, too. But, whether Cezanne meant what I’m about to describe or not, I like to think about this quote and have it mean that each individual is their own work of art, and life in general and all its constituents are works of art as well.

I am pretty critical of myself, and I think that’s a really great thing in some ways because it motivates me to keep trying, experimenting and doing better. Being critical is great. But while being critical, we should practice just... living, the majority of the time. So “painting,” or playing rugby, or engineering a robot or studying to become a doctor. Critiquing plays a role, but it shouldn’t be anyone’s main job. Our main job should be to learn and to create, and every once in a while make sure you’re not going too far off track.

So, this quote means to me:

Don’t spend your life judging other people’s art — other people’s lives — but instead spend most of your time creating your own painting and working on your skills and perfecting your picture. Simultaneously, don’t spend your life looking and criticizing your own life — your own “art” — because there is so much more life to be making what could be, than time to be spent thinking about what could be.

Katie: I took a four-hour nap on Friday, if that gives you any indication of how my week went.

Anyways, we have a few chalkboard quote bubbles stuck on the wall in our kitchen, with such 15F gems from us and our housemates as “Don’t come back. I want to use my fire ladder” and “It’s black, like my soul.” Out of context, these quotes probably don’t mean much to anyone outside the four of us, but they make me smile and think back to the moment when they were spoken earlier this term and made me smile then, too.

Senior fall is rough. I’m finally starting to understand why wise older people often have this face when they learn you’re a senior in college, and it’s resulted in me criticizing myself a lot this term. I’m going to try to avoid comparing myself to a work of art here, and maybe Cezanne meant to stop criticizing others, but I’m also going to take his point to mean that criticizing yourself won’t get you as far as trying things will. Whether that means improving the roughest rough draft of your life to kill that final paper or picking yourself back up after job applications have sucked out your soul, sometimes all you can do is keep painting.

(Huh. Turns out this quote does relate to my life.)

- “Who’s Horatius?”
- “Uh….a Greek philosopher maybe? Why?
- (reading from a textbook) “With weeping and with laughter / Still is the story told, / How well Horatius kept the bridge / In the brave days of old.”
- “....I may have been wrong about who Horatius is.”

Keep holding the bridge, friends.


Katie Hake and Elizabeth McNally