I am continuing to work my way through the book The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh. I am reading it from beginning to end, but I haven’t been consistent with reading it on a daily basis.
The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh, Penguin Classics.
Yesterday I came across a passage worth sharing. To set it up: the time is July 1885, a few months after Vincent painted his master work depicting peasant life—The Potato Eaters (April 1885).
The Potato Eaters by Vincent van Gogh (1885).
However, Vincent is still having trouble selling his work and his financial situation appears bleak. He writes to his brother Theo:
“I find myself faced with the necessity of being that most disagreeable of people, in other words of having to ask for money. And since I don’t think that sales will pick up in the next few days, the situation seems rather dire. But I put it to you, isn’t it better for both of us, après tout (after all), to work hard, no matter what problems that may entail, than to sit around philosophizing at a time like this?
I can’t foretell the future, Theo—but I do know the eternal law that all things change. Think back 10 years, and things were different, the circumstances, the mood of the people, in short everything. And 10 years hence much is bound to have changed again. But what one does remains—and one does not easily regret having done it. The more active one is, the better, and I would sooner have a failure than sit idle and do nothing.”
Gogh, Vincent van, and Ronald. Leeuw. The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh. London: Allen Lane, Penguin Press, 1996. Print.
What inspires me about this passage is Vincent’s willingness to press on with his art, undeterred by his lack of success. The fire in him to create burns too intensely for him to abandon his avocation.