Monday, July 9, 2012
Years ago there was a popular song titled "Vincent" with a haunting melody and touching lyrics. The song is about the 19th century painter Vincent van Gogh. Most of us have heard the famous story of him cutting off his ear to prove his love for a young woman. His paintings are among the most expensive in the world - his top seven paintings alone were sold for over $700 million.
Unfortunately, the painter himself didn’t enjoy all the fame and wealth that his paintings generate. He died when he was only 37 years old. At that time only a few people knew his work and even fewer appreciated it.
Moreover, he went through a lot of difficulties in his life. For years he suffered from painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness. He suffered from nightmares, insomnia, and stupor, among others. This is not to mention his financial difficulties. He was only able to sell one painting in his lifetime and needed financial support to make ends meet.
Considering the phenomenal fame of his work later on, it’s tragic. So tragic, in fact, that it inspired the song Vincent to be written.
Yet despite all the difficulties in his life, he still managed to create several great paintings. How could that be? What was it that made it possible?
The answer is that he had a strong supporter, his younger brother Theo.
Unlike his older brother, Theo van Gogh isn’t famous. Only a few people know about him. But he was the person behind Vincent van Gogh who allowed the latter to produce many great works.
Theo was a constant supporter of Vincent throughout all his difficulties. He supported Vincent financially, but more important, he supported him emotionally. His letters to Vincent were full of praise and encouragement. He continued to believe in his brother no matter what. I think it’s safe to say that Vincent was able to become the great artist he was because of this constant and unfailing support from his brother.
There is an important lesson here: never underestimate the value of a supporter. No matter how strong you think you are, you need a supporter who believes in you. Life isn’t always kind. There are always tough times. Having someone who believes in you makes all the difference.
If you have such a supporter now, be grateful for them. Don’t take them for granted. You might not realize it, but much of what you achieve now is most likely because of your supporters. They are the ones who lift you up when you are down.
But then you must also do your part: be a constant supporter for someone else. Believe in what he or she does and give your unfailing support. Be a “Theo” for your “Vincent.” You never know how far things could go.