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Jennifer Jones1 Van Gogh's Search For His Life's Path
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"Normality is a paved road. It's comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it. -- Vincent van Gogh Vincent van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 and was the eldest of six children. His father was a minister and in the early years, Vincent considered that profession. He was set against conventionality and sought his own path. He dropped out of high school, but at age 27, in January 1879, he was given a job as a preacher in a small village where he tended to the sick and poor, gave Bible readings and taught school children. Van Gogh sought to align himself with the poor and gave away all his possessions and slept on the floor of a small hut. Those who hired him considered his behavior as "extravagant posturing himself of humility and fired him." Vincent had always written and draw for his own pleasure. After being fired, he moved to a nearby village and applied himself more seriously to writting and drawing. His family was concerned about his lack of pursuit of a normal career. Van Gogh's brother, Theo, came to speak with him about the family concerns that resulted in the brothers not speaking to one another for a year. Vincent reached out to his brother in an effort to explain his position. In the letter, Van Gogh distinguishes that there are two kinds of idlers, and one of which he's not as his family supposed. He wrote: "There's the one who's an idle through laziness and weakness of character, through the baseness of his nature...Then there's the other idler, the idler despite himself, who is gnawed inwardly by great desire for action, who does nothing because he finds it impossible to do anything since he's imprisoned in something, so to speak, because he doesn't have what he would need to be productive, because the inevitability of circumstances is reducing him to this point. Such a person doesn't always know himself what he could do, but he feels by instinct, I'm good for something, even so! I feel I have a raison d'etre! I know that I could be quite a different man! For what then could I be of use, for what then could I serve! There's something within me, so what is it! That's an entirely different idler." Vincent van Gogh was searching for his path off the road well-traveled and wished that his family would have understood and accepted him. Nevertheless, he had to be true to his inner being and kept striving to move beyond the constraints of his poor circumstances. And from this humble and determined beginning, the world has received the greatness of masterpieces.


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