On Assignment

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."

Pablo Picasso

Identifying your gift isn’t always as straightforward as it seems it would be. Easy enough for the virtuosos but not so easy for people with no highly distinctive or clearly defined talent lofty enough to claim as a gift. I’m just curious as to where Picasso stands in this equation. You would think being a famous artist that his gift was very clear, so what’s all this “find your gift” about?
On the other hand, maybe it took a while for all his cubes and mismatched body parts* to come together as art. If that were the case, perhaps he’s pointing out how sneaky our gifts can be. Take generosity, for example. It might be hard for a generous person to connect their discipline of and capacity for generosity as a gift. (Or claim it as a gift for that matter. It would be hard to say, “My gift to humanity is my generosity.”)
In that way it could take a while for the gifty-ness of our gifts to make themselves clear which is the part I relate to. So far as I can tell, I have been gifted the compulsion for noticing small, ordinary things and saying, “Look, this is how we are.” It’s not the sort of gift that is obvious in its gifty-ness, but it’s what keeps coming out of me, making me think it’s what I’m here to do. Like it’s my assignment.
My point is that maybe Picasso’s gift wasn’t being an artist. Maybe cubes and mismatched body parts were his gift. He just had to figure out what to do with them. In that same cube-and-mismatched-body-part kind of way, the things that keep coming out of us may not look or feel like gifts. Our assignment is to figure out why they are and then find a way give it freely.
As best you can tell, what is your assignment?
To our gifts, strange and inscrutable as they may be,
*My apologies to Picasso for reducing his art to cubes and mismatched body parts in the service of my point; his art spanned many more periods, styles and mediums.