Friday, March 15, 2013
What amazes me is the fact that he kept painting. No one at the time liked his work. Yet without any praise or compensation he kept on painting. He created over 2000 works of art in 10 years! Could you honestly say you'd do the same? Could you spend your life doing something even if you never got so much as a "good job" for doing it? And the tragedy is he would die never knowing the impact he made - not just in painting or art in general, but also on those who would recognize a little of the emotion that he poured out in those paintings. How could he have known that when he painted a simple pot of 15 sunflowers eventually someone would be willing to spend 40 million dollars for it?
Sometimes I feel like I understand Van Gogh at least in a very little way. As at-home dads we work with little to no reward. There certainly isn't any money involved. We generally don't get much recognition and when we do its usually in the form of backhanded compliments ("I could never do what you do!"). Now speaking for myself here, I don't really even care. I will admit that at the beginning it was rough. As men we're conditioned to want to provide and our success is measured by money and/or status. So when I began this whole "dad thing" getting used to the idea that my success could not measured in these metrics was hard. I understand Van Gogh now. He didn't paint for the reward it would garner. Painting was the reward. My kids are my Sunflowers. I'm still in the process of "painting" them and it'll be a few years before this "series" is finished. I won't get any money from this. My social status is if anything lower than it used to be and that's okay. I do it because I believe in it; because I know I am doing what I need to do, for my kids and for myself.
One of the compelling things about Van Gogh's sunflowers is that they are all unique. Each flower has blemishes and flaws. They are not uniform and they are in varying states of health. Van Gogh saw their beauty despite all this, and maybe because of this painted each with the same care as the others. My job is the same - to care for each of my children as individuals to bring out their best in spite of any flaws. In years to come no one (I hope) is going to pay 40 million dollars for my "Sunflowers". My reward will be when others will recognize in them the same beauty I see in them today.