“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincen van Gogh
Heis considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt. In just under 9 years he produced some 800 works of art. And in 2015, his painting L’Allée des Alyscamps sold for $66 million.
His name was Vincent van Gogh.
But the man behind the brilliant brush strokes of iconic works like The Starry Night, The Potato Eaters, and Cafe Terrace at Night was shunned from society for most of his life.
He battled mental illness, often clashed with his strict father, and struggled to find his footing in the world.
Still, what makes Van Gogh’s short life so remarkable was his refusal to give up on himself. He was determined to find a way to be of value to the world.
Vincent’s father was the son of a minister. And in 1877, the family sent Van Gogh to stay with a man named Johannes Stricker, a well-known theologian living in Amsterdam.
The plan was for Van Gogh to attend the University of Amsterdam where he would then study theology.
Fortunately for the world, he failed to gain admittance to the school and left town just a year later.
Life looked bleak for Van Gogh. He’d exhausted the patience of his family, was essentially broke, and had no promising prospects.
Perhaps worst of all, it seemed there was no one in Van Gogh’s corner.
Except for one man…
The special bond between Vincent and his brother Theo is well-documented. Theo is often credited with nudging Vincent to become an artist in the first place.
The two wrote each other regularly and lived together for a short time in Paris. Their correspondence to one another is open, honest, and profoundly heartfelt. Vincent once wrote Theo saying:
“I don’t really have any friends except for you, and when I’m ill you’re always in my thoughts.”
Not only did Theo support his brother financially but he kept his spirits up with regular updates of the events in his life.
And because Theo was a well-respected art dealer in his own right, he often passed along ideas for paintings in the hopes of inspiring his older brother’s next project.
Most importantly, Theo provided the unshakeable love and support Vincent never received from his parents.
Nomatter what you do there will never be universal consensus it’s an endeavor worth pursuing.
Not everyone is going to get what you’re trying to do and that’s okay. Seeking acceptance is a losing battle.
What Van Gogh understood is it’s not your job to be a molder of consensus or a seeker of validation. Instead, it’s your responsibility to share your unique gifts with those who need them most.
The relationship between the Van Gogh brothers is also a reminder you don’t need droves of people to support your dreams.
ONE can be enough.
Once you find that person, remember to honor the relationship by finding ways you can be of service to their aspirations as well.
Synergy among like-minded people can foster resilience, creativity, and remarkable contributions to the world.