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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Vincent Van Gogh

"If you hear a voice within you say, 'You cannot paint,' then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced."

— Vincent van Gogh
Dutch Painter
1853 - 1890

Most of us have a voice inside that plants seeds of doubt in our hearts.  "You can't paint.  You can't write.  You can't draw.  You can't speak.  You can't sing...."  The list goes on and on.  Today we call it self-talk.  One expert says that 75% of what we say to ourselves is negative.   We need to silence that negative voice by proving him wrong.  Don't listen to that negative voice that is determined to make you fail.  Keep writing.  Keep painting.  Keep drawing.

When I teach people how to be better speakers, I talk about that second voice sitting on their shoulders.  When I first started speaking, I heard two voices — the one coming out of my mouth and the one sitting on my shoulder.  The one was positive and upbeat.  The second was nervous and negative.  The more often I spoke, the less vocal the second voice became.  Today I rarely hear that negative voice.  And when I do, I give him a quick kick and he is gone.

And the same is true of my writing.  I used to hear the voice of doubt shouting in my ear.  Today, I can barely hear him mumble.  And when he does appear, he is skin and bones and dressed in rags.  Soon he will be homeless.

The First Steps, After Jean Francis Millet
(January 1890)

I have written two poems in response to this painting, The First Steps, by Van Gogh:  A Father's Dream from the point of view of the father and A Mother's Grief from the point of view of the mother.  Just click on the titles.