Never Let The Fire Go Out

If one keeps loving faithfully what is really worth loving, and does not waste one's love on insignificant and unworthy and meaningless things, one will get more light by and by and grow stronger. Sometimes it is well to go into the world and converse with people, and at times one is obliged to do so, but he who would prefer to be quietly alone with his work, and who wants but very few friends, will go safest through the world and among people. And even in the most refined circles and with the best surroundings and circumstances, one must keep something of the original character of an anchorite, for other wise one has no root in oneself; one must never let the fire go out in one's soul, but keep it burning. And whoever chooses poverty for himself and loves it possesses a great treasure, and will always clearly hear the voice of his conscience; he who hears and obeys that voice, which is the best gift of God, finds at least a friend in it, and is never alone. ~Vincent van Gogh   

In late December of 2010 my main computer crashed.  And I mean IT CRASHED.  My husband spent the better part of a week, desperately trying to save it but it was beyond hope, as far as we could tell.  I had just come off a very moody creative period where I had produced some of my best work in reverse lens macro photography as well as a completely special set I shot at the Senior Social Club I was volunteering at over Thanksgiving.  While he was able to save quite a bit, he was unable to save about 3 weeks of my work, created during that time.  I was devastated and it was a hard lesson learned. 

I had been reading a lot at the time, about Vincent van Gogh.  I find myself equally fascinated and horrified by the man's life.  So much creativity.  So much passion.  Such incredible enthusiasm for both religion and art and a beautiful understanding of color, which he dearly loved.  But also periods of darkness in a deep and lingering depression.  He is often thought to have suffered from bipolar disorder and I suppose today, we'd have considered him an alcoholic, due to his dependence on the toxic drink popular with artists of his day - absinthe. He sold only one painting in his entire career and he ended his life by shooting himself "for the good of all."  

There is a part of me that not only wants, but NEEDS to understand this man and the way his mind worked  ... for so many reasons.   How does so much talent, so much promise, so much incredible beauty inside of a person, end so tragically?  His work was powerfully emotional, as if he was trying not only to explain his internal madness to the world at large, but to force us as human beings to confront our own spirituality and potential madness.  And perhaps ...  he was confronting his own in an attempt to make sense of it for himself. Whatever it was he was working out in his paintings, I find myself wishing so very much, that he could have done it without turning a gun on himself.  

Word to the Wise:
Look at the world from someone else's perspective.  You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself.

I am currently reading the entire collection of Vincent van Gogh letters, written primarily to his brother Theo.  I have to admit, there is a part of me that finds it rather ironic.  I wonder if he ever had any idea that the words he wrote in private, to his brother and to others of importance in his life, would someday be read by the world at large.  Certainly gives me pause....

It's actually Theo I identify with the most.  I think a lot about his role in Vincent's life and how devastating the loss must have been for him.  Clearly, he loved and believed in his brother.  I hope with all my heart, that they both rest, in peace now in a place where the madness no longer has a hold on them.