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Coneflower and Hummingbird Moth; at Eternity's Gate

I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.

~ Vincent van Gogh.

 

Vincent van Gogh, the master dutch painter, is known world-wide for his numerous paintings of outstanding quality. In addition to being intrigued by his art, I am also fascinated by the unchartered depths of his amazing mind. His mind was clinically depressed and depression, if you ask me, is the worst mental state to be in where life ceases to be meaningful. Additionally, van Gogh also suffered from bipolar disorder, a disease where the mind is torn between opposite extremes. Vincent was described as ‘two persons: one, marvelously gifted, tender and refined, the other, egotistic and hard hearted’ by his brother Theo who was also his best friend. Such a turbulent mind is predestined to sink the person it dictates and ruin one or more nearby lives. As a result of possessing such unruly minds, many lesser men among us die little deaths every day until the thread snaps for good. Despite dragging himself through several such diminutive deaths Vincent dared to dream of painting and painted his dreams. He decidedly knew his mind well and wanted to master it like the paint on his easel. It takes character of the extreme kind to stand up to utter nonsense of one’s own mind which in van Gogh’s case forgot things at whim, reasoned for the unreasonable, hallucinated vividly, grew furious for no obvious cause, and hurt incessantly. Have you seen his ‘at eternity’s gate’? The pain of his mind shines though in this masterpiece. For a man so forlorn and wasted, he painted his redemption on canvas and religiously believed his work to be the anecdote of his troubled mind. He feared that his mind will ruin his talent and worked relentlessly until a bout of suicidal depression made him sink a bullet in his lower chest which killed him slowly over the next two days. He eventually lost to his tormented mind but not before putting up a gallant fight that is still celebrated in our best art galleries.

 

Vincent van Gogh stood there at eternity’s gate as two men; the first who was destroyed and was depicted on the canvas by the second who believed he could still make those bold brush strokes speak on behalf of his soul. On days when I scatter myself, van Gogh looms large on my mind. He reminds me that I will always have a second choice during my humble turn at eternity’s gate where I can either clench my head in despair or walk right through the portal. And I fear, I will do both.

 

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Taken on June 23, 2011