What’s the dream for your life ahead? How hard are you pushing yourself to get it?
The Rijksmuseum is TripAdvisor’s #1 rated ‘Things to do” in Amsterdam. But not for me. On my visit last month I wanted none of those dark Dutch paintings.
I wanted Van Gogh’s “Starry, Starry Night.” Turns out “The Starry Night” is in New York and part of the Museum of Modern Art’s Permanent Collection since 1941.
Never mind. The Van Gogh Museum is spectacular without it.
Spectacular? Yep. With three floors of 850 paintings, 1300 works on paper, and insights from his correspondence (940 letters), you come to know Van Gogh – the person, the artist, his heartaches and determination.
There’s Van Gogh the junior clerk at an art firm, the teacher, the bookseller and the preacher. All this before he decided to become an artist at the age of 27. Self-taught, unmarried, childless and supported (and loved) by his brother, Theo. The public did not know of Van Gogh until after his death at 37; he sold one painting during his lifetime.
The Van Gogh Museum experience was a highlight of my time in Holland and later that afternoon I recalled another museum two years ago with floor after floor of colorful works of art.
The Museu Picasso de Barcelona houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso whose life circumstances are the flip side of Van Gogh’s.
Picasso started to paint when he was eight, finished his first painting at nine (the year Van Gogh died) and at 13 he entered Barcelona’s School of Fine Arts, where his father taught. Picasso was an established artist at 20. Fame, fortune, numerous love affairs, three children – Picasso led the “good life.” He died at 91.
Each of these artists influenced future art and over 100 years later their works sell for millions.
What does this have to do with you?
These twentieth century artists have two things in common:
- Extraordinary productivity especially toward the end of their lives
- A fire in their internal soul to continue their work – forever.
Neither of these artists allowed their flame for their work to be extinguished. You and I must discover and foster how this might be possible in our own lives.
How’s your flame doing?
Off to Work We Go
It would have been understandable for Van Gogh to allow hardships which included anxiety, poverty and mental instability to dim his passion. Picasso didn’t need the money or much more fame. He could have stopped midlife.
Yet, in the last years of their lives they continued to pour energy into their work with remarkable results.
- In his final years, Picasso had a tremendous last burst of productivity painting with the phenomenal speed he had had as a teenager in Barcelona.
- Van Gogh painted 70 works in the last two months of his life.
People with high Career Wellbeing – doing meaningful work – are more than twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall. (If you want to understand the research and documentation for choosing work, see Why You Must Dare, Dream and Work – Forever.)
We must ask:
How can we keep our flame for work and life from diminishing?
Do you feel your flame for putting your talents and skills to use in new ways?
Can you imagine doing your ‘work’ until the very last day of your life? (more…)