The number 40 is of great importance in Judeo-Christian tradition.
In biblical times, it was assumed that a person would die 40 days after he or she stopped breathing. The great Kings of Israel (Saul, David and Salomon) all reigned for forty years, Jonas preached for 40 days before Nineveh’s destruction, Noah’s great rains lasted 40 days and Moses received his call at 40 years of age and stayed in Sinai for 40 days. Furthermore, the chosen people lived in the desert for 40 years, while Jesus preached for 40 months, was tempted in the same desert by the devil for 40 days, disappeared from his burial place within 40 hours and appeared after resurrection, and before ascension, for exactly 40 days. And, obviously, forty days is the preparation time before Easter.
Forty was presumed to be THE number required for full transformation or renewal.
So is then forty a magical number? Probably not (I do not have the answer). It may probably be just a number, but it is definitely something else, and that is a message in a bottle.
It may simply mean “give it reasonable time”.
It may exemplify the fact that everything that is important, everything that requires a shift from an accepted paradigm, or a change of perspective, also requires a sensible time to mature and happen.
When I am “stuck” on an issue with my painting, I have two choices. Muddle through or give it time. And more often than not I will chose to give it time. Let it mature. And this means that I should “lay off”. Let it be for a while. Look at my troubled work in that typically artistic stance that is a mixture between despair and admiration for what we have done and may never repeat.
So my recommendation would be, let it be. Give yourself a period to rest. Forty minutes, forty hours or forty days. Fifty, fifteen, twenty or whatever you happen to feel is right, but give it time. And giving it time also means looking for silence, searching for a period to reason, contemplating, and extracting answers and further questions (after all, if anything , we have learned by now that one answer inexorably leads to a new uncertainty).
And letting it be also means going into your own desert, being tempted to do misguided stuff, and finally returning from the horrowing experience free from pressures and erronous stimuli, feeling liberated and ready to resume the correct path.
Forty something, twenty something, sixty something…it doesn´t really matter. It is all probably all pretty much the same. It should simply be a great opportunity to stop, move away, think and maybe, just get it right.
Until the next time!
©2016 by Ignacio Alperin Bruvera