Colour my Life (in green)

If you have ever been to Picasso's museum in Barcelona, you will quickly learn as you wander through the corridors and alcoves and take in his pieces, that he did a lot more stuff in his painting career than the abstract he is maybe most well known for. He did a lot of of landscape stuff in his years, and lots of sex scenes. Some were simple, some were pencil drawings, but none really seemed to stand out very much to me in terms of awakening your eyes wide and really looking (well, there are a few scenes that do make you wonder - did he paint from memory? Was he there in the act?). This earlier stuff could have been of any artist, only the abstract stuff got me, or at least, got me to actually sit down on one of those daybeds and actually try to take something in.

Not for the style, not for the wacky shit going on in there, but for the colour.

Picasso seemed to explode in his abstract days, embelishing a canvas with a kaleidoscope of paint. Yet the only photos I have seen of him are always in that beret and in black and white. What did I take in? That he coloured he kept in the lines (well, I'm not an art critic...). It kinda got me thinking of my last colouring session with my nephew and niece. I proudly kept in the lines, but hey, there are three decades of difference between me and them. To any child under six years old, it is perfectly acceptable to have scribbled purple grass and blue skin and mix them when the crayola crayon wore down to the paper around it and they are unable to peel it back and therefore just pick up another one and uncle doesn't understand and if he wants to he can do it too in the end and, and, then when we're finished can we play with lego? Besides, it is too damn perfect to stay in the lines - that has no relevance - only the colour counts. So who is the mad-hatter painter who does abstract when he even keeps in the lines?

So maybe Picasso really did invent colour by numbers? Maybe he could have pencilled children's colouring books. After all, his shapes and squiggles and distorted noses and lop-sided bodies and faces seem to almost reason as a child. Born in to this world a child, we are to finish it being looked after in the same way, maybe minus the colouring books.

Saying all this, Picasso's abstract stuff tells me one thing. How we need to add colour to our lives. Without it what or who are we?

Yet we can overcome our lives with too much colour. We splatter our being with too much, we exaggerate, it becomes too complicated - we binge and we end up vomiting a mess smelly mess. Maybe we need less colour (Andrew, make your bloody mind up...)

So half way across the world away from Picasso's museum I sat on the ledge of a crafted concrete road and gazed at the Jatiluwih rice fields before me, pondering them as much as I had tried to do with Picasso's abstract works. But this time, they eye-balled back at me, and stung me with their beauty. And it was all just one colour. Green.

To me it could have been a rainbow - the lines of colour instead different shades of green. It was breathtaking. I didn't need red and yellow and pink and green and orange and purple and blue, I could sing a rice field, sing a rice field, not a rainbow like the children's song. I thought about counting the different shades, how many are there? That would have been pretty much a waste of time. Time there is to be used just taking in it all in, to just enjoy it and admire. It was so simple, yet there was so much. My nephews and nieces can have all the crayons in the bumper pack, just leave me all the green ones. Colour by numbers or colour by shades.

Venturing down the coast and across the strait in a speedboat ferry to Nusu Lembongan, sitting in a beach restaurant with a beer and a tasty Nasi Campur dinner, life can't get much better. And again it was so simple. I sat looking out in to the night and the dark blanket of sea with a cluster of small, sharp orange flecks that added a speckle of colour to the black sprawl. A pencil line light of the town of Sanur on mainland Bali in the distance does the same. Light is everything - it highlights even the swirl of the slightest surf lapping the shore, enchancing shades to the colour.

Now I know why we have plants in our homes.

If you can colour by numbers, you can colour by shades. The rice fields in a colouring book would be like this. I don't know if I could let my nephews and niece have their way and have pink and blue and orange rice fields... Colour this journey with one letter and you get an idea of what and where. Backpacking in Bali in bungalows and drinking Bingtang beers, the local brew. Everything is as simple as A,B,C, or just B.

We the people make life more complicated because we are complexed beings. The Dalai Lama once said: "if every eight-year old  in the world is taught meditaton, we will eliminate violence in the world within one generation". If only it were so simple. But if we started by learning to colour our lives in the simplest of ways, maybe we could make it a better one for all. Though you can start before eight-years old - colouring that is, staying in the lines is a tall ask even by Dalai Lama's standards. I'm just pretty cool with sitting down and discussing over a Bingtang.


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