Letters · Thoughts

An Open Letter to Vincent Van Gogh

Dear Mr. Vincent,

I am aware that you no longer reside in this universe of ours. I have been quite fascinated with your life ever since I listened to a song by Don McLean. The song was about you, and in that song I found stark similarities between you and I. I’m sure most of the world would feel the same as well. The world is a lonely place right now. Your paintings are mesmerizing. I was bewildered by your self-portraits. I don’t know why they wouldn’t acknowledge your greatness while you were alive. The famous starry night had a mystical tinge to it and it’s my favorite one.

“At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.”

Vincent Van Gogh

The more I see life, the more I feel like I can see it through your eyes. There’s so much beauty around and yet so much madness. So much sadness. It makes me wonder whether life has any meaning at all, whether I have any purpose at all. Sometimes everything seems so random. I have spent months in solitude and I feel trapped. I feel stretched between two polarities of wanting to see the beauty in things and not being able to do so due to the wrath of my circumstances.

“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke”

Vincent Van Gogh

Take your life for example. There’s so much beauty you had to offer to this world. But the world rejected you. You were considered a mad man, an invalid just because you weren’t like the world. And in the end you shot yourself. I’m not suicidal but I understand why someone would be tempted to kill oneself. Lack of love, lack of connection, an unkind world. And even if beyond all this pain and trauma there lies a life that’s worth living, it’s really hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel when you’re surrounded by complete and utter darkness. I guess you were in that darkness when you took your life.

But then I look at your letters you wrote to your brother. One can say it’s from a man who was striving to get better with each passing day. You tried. That is what breaks my heart, Mr. Vincent. All that effort couldn’t help you. This confuses me. Human life can be so fragile at some points of vulnerabilities. Maybe that’s why I feel so lost.

“The sadness will last forever.”

Vincent Van Gogh

To be entirely honest, I’m at loss of words. At the same time I can’t pin point the reason behind this silence. My insides are roaring creation but my finger tips typing none. There’s something odd about solitude. There is this staggering loneliness in trying to understand melancholy. I believe I am a bit like you. Always striving to be acknowledged yet terribly failing to do so, I have invited myself into the house of my worst fears. But I fear that there’s something more terrible that lies beyond this. The abyss. Null. The void. Maybe that’s why I’m unwilling to break my shackles of fear. The confirmation regarding the existence of this abyss bears greater unfathomable pain, far beyond the excruciating horrors of my agony.

Agony says that I’m alive and I am not in terms with my circumstances. But abyss? Abyss confirms my death. Abyss confirms the meaninglessness behind my existence. Abyss confirms that I am a human, put down on the face of Earth, without my consent. I am expected to live. What’s worse is I’m expected to accept and comply to the societal ideals created by none but fellow trapped souls like myself. I’m powerless otherwise. The moment I deviate from the path these fools have laid out for me, I’m nonsense, I’m mad.

“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”

Vincent Van Gogh

I won’t deny the grotesque humour caused by the paradoxes of life. You are ecstatic if you are unaware about the whimsical nature of it. You hold on to that thought of absolution that you will get as you move further up the ladder. But do you really? Then there are the artists, the philosophers and the writers who had the time and patience to dissect and introspect the nature of life out of curiosity or experience. Saddest bunch you will find on the face of the planet. All that scrutiny and effort in understanding the essence of life, wasted on them.

“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.”

Vincent Van Gogh

But maybe we never know for certain about what lies ahead. If abyss is all that there is, I’d rather live longer. Perhaps in agony disturbed by those few false moments of joy. Or maybe there exists no abyss. Maybe there is that light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe there’s no tunnel but just a blindfold around my eyes. I wonder if you regretted the moment you pulled the trigger. I wonder if you wanted a second chance the 48 hours you laid down on your bed waiting the arrival of your death.

“In the life of the painter, death may perhaps not be the most difficult thing. For myself, I declare I don’t know anything about it. But the sight of the stars always makes me dream.”

Vincent Van Gogh

I’m surrounded by people who find vulnerability, weak. But then there you are emerging glorious. You have gone down a legend. Your art is in the minds and souls of everyone. You are worshipped for your greatness. You were different. Those vulnerabilities and perceiving what’s not present or normal made you different. Maybe that’s the reason why you stood out. Your paintings were painted out of love. You believed in the beauty of nature. You strived to see the love even in the most hateful of places. Despite how terribly things ended for you Mr. Vincent I am nothing but awed and inspired by the way you perceived this world. We will never know the exact reason why you pulled the trigger. We are so obsessed with the way you died that most of us never stopped to see the grace with which you lived. Your ideas behind your paintings, your passion for them, your fears about being perceived as a nobody, they were so real and human. Your legacy leaves behind an enormous prize for humanity. I wish you had lived to know that.

I hope more people draw inspiration out of your life and paintings. Thank you for brightening my life with your unique strokes and colors.

Yours loving,

An admirer

18 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Vincent Van Gogh

  1. Amazing write up Deeksha. Brilliant 👏 You write so well and deep thoughts.
    Life is not 2+2=4!! How we wish it was!!
    Yes Deeksha, suicide is not the answer.
    The whole post is amazing and worth thinking about. If I start to write all my thoughts it would become another post 😅
    I particularly liked this as I have experienced it:
    “A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke”
    God alone is the answer Deeksha. Meditation: single cure for all human suffering 👏
    Stay loved. Stay blessed 😊🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Ashok. I wrote from sheer experience. I faced this darkness I talked about. It’s very hard to come out of it but once you do, you realise that life is always worth living. Thank you for giving it a read. I’m glad you liked it. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I really love this tribute to Vincent Van Gogh! Very well done! I to love the Starry Night both the painting and the song! Thank you for this.
    You know, you really ought to write a poem expressing all this!! It would be wonderful!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Awareness my friend, I always wanted someone to interpret my life, no one listened..
    I gradually learned to reeducate myself on this blog, I still struggle to read, but I’ve learned enough to start my interpretation of life which I’ve turned around.. 🙃🙂🙏💙

    Liked by 1 person

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