A brain lesion which may have given him severe nausea, headaches, impaired vision, slowness of speech, paralysis in one half of his body, aggression, personality changes, seizures, and memory loss.
“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”
“What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.”
“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
“As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.”
“I feel such a creative force in me: I am convinced that there will be a time when, let us say, I will make something good every day, on a regular basis….I am doing my very best to make every effort because I am longing so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things mean painstaking work, disappointment, and perseverance.”
I’ve often wondered at van Gogh’s strength, at his power to keep creating and sharing beauty when his life was dark and lonely. His heart was broken by disappointment and discouragement, his neighbors and friends abandoned him, and yet, he kept going. I wonder about that because sometimes, my life is a little dark and very lonely. My heart is broken and I hurt.
It’s always baffled me that at these moments of pain, I write the most often. And van Gogh never stopped painting in his pain, right? Maybe that’s the order of the universe. Maybe trials and heartache are as near to inspiration and creativity as peace and meditation. Maybe we have to be disappointed and heartbroken sometimes so that we can paint starry skies and blog advice about life for somebody else who’s going to go through the same things. Maybe God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us talents to use as tools when Satan makes it seem like we are nothing, that no one cares about us or our lives. We can retreat to the Lord to heal inwardly, but we can also lead the front and do something with what we know and have to heal outwardly. Van Gogh often talked about how he painted to show other people beauty and happiness, and I wonder if he also did so because he had to find a way to heal himself. Maybe “Starry Night Over the Rhone” was his way of proving to the world, yes, especially himself, that there is hope, even in the darkest of circumstances.
Maybe we all do that, too.
I guess this is me saying that this blog is my “Starry Night Over the Rhone.” I don’t write because I’m strong. Heaven knows how weak I am. I write because life is hard, because I get my heart broken, because I get lonely sometimes. I write because I’m human. And I guess I write because I hope that someday someone will read this stuff and see home. See the stars and the reflection of light looking back at them.
Even when everything seems dark.