I was struck by a comment a friend made recently, while discussing a failed relationship: “People are like impressionist paintings—they’re beautiful from far away, but the closer you get, the uglier they get.”
In a sense, she’s right. The closer we become to others, the more evident their flaws.
This morning I happened upon a picture of me and Esteban in front of Monet’s water lilies at the L’Orangérie museum in Paris.
I still remember being awed by this beautiful painting, which covered the walls of an entire room. I was overwhelmed by its sheer size, and its sublime textures and colors.
Then, I stepped in for a closer look. In some spots, the brush strokes looked random. In others, the paint had been applied in thick layers that were probably still not completely dry.
It struck me this morning that all of those apparently stray, wobbly strokes combined to form a masterpiece.
And so it is with people. We’re all crammed with imperfections: A scar here, a touch of acne there, a violent temper, a tendency to lie. But when you consider all these factors, it’s quite astonishing to realize that—while we all have some ugly flaws—there are few truly ugly people.