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.
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”.
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.