Vincent Van Gogh, An Eccentric

Vincent Van Gogh, An Eccentric

BY: EDEN SMITH

There are some people born onto this planet that stand out, unfailingly, in comparison to everyone else. The rare people who view Earth with different eyes, and whose hearts are wired a bit differently. One of these, and one of my favorites, was Vincent Van Gogh.

I believe that we should all take something from these different beings; to see them as a gift, a lesson. My favorite quote of Van Gogh’s is this one:

“What am I in the eyes of most people? A good-for-nothing, an eccentric and disagreeable man, somebody who has no position in society and never will have. Very well, even if that were true, I should want to show by my work what there is in the heart of such an eccentric man, of such a nobody.”

I am fond of these words because he acknowledges his differences and embraces them. As many do not know, Vincent was not popular or famous until after his death- during his life, he was poor and unknown, yet he pursued his painting as a way to escape.

What made him so different, though? I went in a deep dive through the internet, researching conspiracies and theories about this. Many believe Van Gogh possessed multiple mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, and possibly Bi-Polar disorder. This is inferred through his letters to his brother, Theo. In one of these, he writes,

“Let us keep courage and try to be patient and gentle. And not mind being eccentric, and make distinction between good and evil.”

Despite this, Van Gogh’s neighbors evicted him from his home and he would later be omitted to an asylum. The most well-known fact about Van Gogh, nevertheless, is that he literally chopped off his own ear– and this rings true. It happened on Christmas Eve in 1888, just after he had learned of his brother Theo’s engagement. It’s speculated that this put great stress onto the shoulders of Van Gogh, considering he relied on his brother emotionally as well as financially.

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“Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear”

Following his psychotic breakdown where he sliced off his ear, he was sent to a mental hospital- where ironically, his artistry flourished. There, some of his most notable paintings were born, such as “The Starry Night”.

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The Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh

Perhaps the most haunting thing about Vincent Van Gogh’s life was not actually involving his life, but his death. It is said that he committed suicide, but there are people that believe he was murdered. It is known that he died, at age thirty-seven, due to a shot to the abdomen while painting in a wheat field in France- but a gun was never found.

Despite the various theories on his life and death, it is up to you to decide what you believe.

“This is my ambition, which is founded less on anger than on love, founded more on serenity than on passion. It is true that I am often in the greatest misery, but still there is within me a calm, pure harmony and music. In the poorest huts, in the dirtiest corner, I see drawings and pictures. And with irresistible force my mind is drawn towards these things. Believe me that sometimes I laugh heartily because people suspect me of all kinds of malignity and absurdity, of which not a hair of my head is guilty — I, who am really no one but a friend of nature, of study, of work, and especially of people.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Eden Smith, Sweet Spade.

Geshe Sonam: Tibetan Monk

     Tibetan Native and Buddhist Monk, Geshe Sonam lives at the Drepung Gomang Monastery in Louisville, Kentucky. He decided he wanted to be a monk as a young child in Tibet. In 1997, after years of training and schooling, he received a blessing from his holiness, the Dalai Lama.

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Geshe Sonam, in conversation with a visitor to the monastery in Louisville, Kentucky.

      At The Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion, the monks are working towards, “An enlightened, peaceful community transformed through the wisdom and compassion of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.”

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A Buddhist Sand Mandala, those of which take the Monks weeks to create & will eventually be ritually destroyed. 

         Geshe Sonam, along with fellow monks, teaches weekly meditations consisting of intervals of silence and chants sung in Tibetan language. It is customary to remove one’s shoes at the door and quietly sit in the chairs or Zafu cushions on the floor. Though this Dharma center is a non-profit organization, they accept donations for the cause. People from all walks of life attend regularly to clear their minds and hearts in this welcoming space. Many of the people who attend do not belong to the Buddhist religion. After meditation, the atmosphere in the center remains calm. It is welcomed to stay after, have a cup of tea and converse with the Monks, or even stay meditating by yourself in the shrine room.

     The shrine room is where the meditations are held, and it was created in a Tibetan style that dates back many centuries. It is quite vividly colored and gives one a lot to view while inside its walls.

  

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A shelf in the Shrine Room, Louisville Kentucky. All are invited to attend Wednesday meditation from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

          The calming practice of mediation is proven to relieve stress and anxiety- while also benefiting one’s emotional health and ability to focus and concentrate.

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The Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion:

http://www.drepunggomangusa.org/

Eden Smith, Sweet Spade

Photos: Taken by me, Nikon D3300

Here’s How People Define Happiness

I asked people to define love in accordance to their own lives and here’s what they said:

  • “Happiness comes in small doses, it’s a cigarette outside, it’s whatever you need right now.” – Anon
  • “Happiness is when you stop letting everything bad in life drive you crazy, maybe even just for a second, and just living. Living in harmony with yourself and everything else. It’s letting life be life and making the best out of it- because quite frankly, your happiness starts and ends with you.” – Haley M.
  • “Anything that makes you feel content in yourself and your surroundings, anything that makes you feel okay in that moment.”- Anon
  • “Living your life to the fullest, making your dreams come true and being able to do whatever you want.” – Anon
  • “It’s those little fireworks you get in your body when something excites you, ignites you, awakens you. It’s not long-term, but when you feel it, you know it’s real.” – E.S.
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“When I am surrounded by my friends is when I feel truly happy. They make everything okay.” – Anon
  • “Happiness is something memorable. It comes in all different shapes and sizes. It can be a time when you remember a funny thing your friend said, to knowing that you are loved. It’s whatever you want it to be.” – Hallie W.
  • “Happiness is seeing and appreciating someone you love get excited talking about what they love and what they are passionate about, the kind of stuff that makes your heart so full it could explode, it’s what you need.” – Anon
  •  Happiness is the feeling of butterflies you get in your stomach when you look into the eyes of someone you love. Happiness is the feeling you get when you finally achieve your personal goal that you’ve worked so hard for. Happiness is and will always be the ultimate goal for everyone. Happiness isn’t just a feeling, it’s a mindset.” – Anon
  • “Happiness is working towards your fullest potential in life, but smiling, enjoying, and living every minute of it.” – Sarah F.
  • “Happiness comes from the compassion, acceptance, love, and joy we show to others.” – Hannah J.
  • “. Happiness is driving with the windows down and your music blaring, it’s watching your favorite show or movie and feeling nostalgic. It’s coming home home and being greeted by your dog or cat, it’s doing what you love without a care in the world.” – Tessa N.

Sometimes we need reminded of all the things in this wonderful life that keep us going. Happiness in the eyes of others can shape our own views, and in this, we fuel our hearts. 

E.S. Sweet Spade

I Asked Strangers to Define Love

Back in mid-February, I’d gotten the idea to put my journalist skills to a real-life test, and go out into the world to do “man-on-the-street”, or inquiring journalist interviews. I have this unbelievable thirst for stories, and voices, and wisdom from people I do not know. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.

So I did.

I took my friend Haley with me, along with my camera, and we went to the Highlands in Louisville, Kentucky to ask people to give us a definition of love. The results were brilliant- and I’d like to share them with you.

I Asked Strangers to Define “Love” And This is What They Said:

“indescribable…because it’s a feeling and its different for each person. So you can’t really say its butterflies in your stomach and you can’t really say its sweaty hands or anything because there’s different types of it. You can’t quantify it”

“a fleeting feeling of infatuation”

“it will always eventually end”

“A deep sense of caring.”

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“A deep sense of caring.”- Lena and her boyfriend, Razz-ma-tazz Jewlrey Store (Highlands, Louisville)

“I think it’s accepting someone with all their faults, and it’s not finding the perfect person, its seeing someone as perfect the way that they are.”

“Putting someone before yourself.”

“Love cannot be simply explained.”

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“Love is indescribable. It’s exciting and scary.” -Noah Godsey, at work at Which Wich (Louisville, KY)

“Love is 38 years of marriage.”

“The chemistry that you have with someone else.”

“The feeling of need for another human being.”

“Love is a painful kind of thing. Its not always sunshine, because when you love someone, it doesn’t matter what they do, even if they hurt you, I don’t think you can unlove them.”

E.S. and Haley McGlynn, Sweet Spade

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