“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can,” she remarked one day, after much water had passed under the bridge of her life.
As it turns out, life is a twisting and winding adventure, if we allow it to be.
Having been crushed early, broken even, and written off by all but a few, she might have collapsed into herself, become small, been washed away, unremembered, by time.
Instead, she learned early that love, and success, and approval weren’t things to expect from the world but rather were masterpieces of life and breath to be crafted, carefully… like the most magnificent of mosaics assembled, piece by piece, from the shattered remains of things that were once beautiful in entirely different ways.
Frida Kahlo was a force of nature, taking up the very things that others cast aside or snickered at and putting them on a pedestal where they could not be ignored, evoking the kind of visceral response that eventually compels admiration, worship even.
Her broken back, fulsome brow, lascivious Diego, lesbian lovers, the bold colors of her heritage — all creating fertile ground for art that would outlast and outlive her.
But even that wasn’t satisfaction enough. In re-claiming authorship of her own story, she left a mark far more indelible on the world — one of urgent love and wild abandon, of fierce conviction and unflinching authenticity.
Whenever the world tried to tell her who she was or what she could not do, she scoffed and set out to do the exponential version of that self-same thing — became its very essence, even.
The beauty, though, was not so much in what she did but in how she was — bending norms and customs less by force than through daring, deliberate surrender.
Maybe, having learned early that life can upend plans in an instant, she released some of her expectations and discovered, long before the beatniks would, that flow is a powerful force and that learning to ride it is the stuff of living.
Asked once if it didn’t disturb her to have hitched her star to her impulsive and unfaithful husband she replied in her way, “I do not think that the banks of a river suffer because they let the river flow, nor does the earth suffer because of the rains, nor does the atom suffer for letting its energy escape.” That, it seems now at some distance, was perhaps no less of a contribution to posterity than her painting and poetry. In the end, it was her life that was the true work of art, its artifacts only slivers of the truth of it all, like reflections in a fun house mirror that distort their subject, confusing the viewer and obscuring the stark reality of self.
If we stand back enough to enjoy the masterpiece of her life, we can still see the places where the course of it opened a world of possibility for all those who would walk in her shadow and find, in doing so, that they could step out into the sunshine themselves and blaze their own trails too.