“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
LOVING VINCENT just came to the Cinema. I’ve been excited for this film simply because I wanted to see a film in which every frame was a different painting – literally – and I’ve been seeing promos for this film for several years, now, and the excitement has just been growing. I didn’t, however, think that the above quote would strike such a chord within my soul.
I have a really hard time feeling like a person. I feel that everything I do doesn’t matter in the long run, and that even if I do something really great, that won’t make me any more secure in my future, or more liked by people. To me, the sum of my accomplishments is just that – people like the things I do, but they don’t like me.
I know this is not true. But I feel it is true.
Every day I live the life of a nonentity. I cannot believe that my friends do anything more than put up with me. I cannot believe that my presence is actually wanted in a social setting, which is probably why I try to host so many damn parties – I want to prove to myself that people will actually show up. I’m challenging myself, saying, stop it, Sam. People care about you. But I will never believe that.
I never believe it, and yet I have to keep living life like I do, because I don’t know what will happen if I allow that disbelief to grow in me. I don’t want to think about the person I will become if I let those thoughts consume me. I already think I’m constantly being put up with, but imagine if I started acting that way? I would go off the rails.
But I try to be honest. I don’t want myself to be a lie, to exude false confidence. That’s why I write so many damn vulnerable things in this blog, because I feel like I might never say these things out loud, so I’ve got to say them somewhere. People don’t want to be stuck in a conversation in which you vent to them about yourself; but if someone clicks on a link that leads to that venting in a blog post, that’s not my fault.
And so I live under this premise: even if it is true that I’m a nonentity (which I’m not. I’m not. I’m not.), I will strive to paint my heart on this canvas called life, and show what is in my heart. In my honesty, I find hope, not in being liked, but in being all that I could ever be. I can’t ask much more than that of the world, to let me be me.
That’s where my philosophy falls from Vincent’s. I don’t have any sort of calmness within me. I have music in me, but it is not harmonious. It’s a distortion of every little thing that happens, a symphony of second guesses.
I think when we find ourselves in a world we didn’t ask to be in – and by that, I mean, a mental world, not the actual physical world – we do our best to create coping mechanisms. I have a few. The first is to support those around me that I love. Seeing contentedness in others makes me content. I will give my energy to those around me, because maybe their happiness, their serenity, will leak over into mine.
The second coping mechanism is that I close myself off. I do this because I feel that people would be better off not having to worry about me, or be inconvenienced by me. I suppose we are trained to do this, in society. What a damaging thing.
I am not an inconvenience. I am not an inconvenience. I am not an inconvenience. I need to learn to share my thoughts, my anxieties, and not bottle them up inside, because the more I experience them outside of me, maybe the more they will stay outside of me. And I am important enough to take that seriously.
In the past couple of years, my mind has tried to convince itself that the person I am, the essence of me, is unfortunate. Something to pity, to hold at arm’s length. That’s not logic talking. It’s just me being unable to navigate me. And it’s really hard to shift that thinking, when you try so hard to see reality for what it is but your lens is so distorted that you just… don’t know. It’s a weird feeling, to love yourself so much, but to also question the validity of that love, of everything in your life through the false perspective of others.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Vincent Van Gogh was a genius. He captured beauty and truth in his paintings, but in his life, he captured soul. The relatable man. There are bits and pieces of him that align perfectly with my journey, and that is simultaneously terrifying and satisfactory, all at once. My appreciation for his work has slowly developed over the years into an appreciation for him. And isn’t that exactly the point?
That’s the beauty of art. When I was a kid, I would say, I’m just not a fan of that style of art. But now I try to ask myself, hey, if you don’t like the style, do you at least understand the message? That’s a distinction that is sometimes difficult to extricate. But if I am to live my life hoping to show my heart through my work, I have to be willing to see others’ hearts, too.