When I feel boring, uninspired, uninteresting, with nothing to give or no value to add, remembering this Van Gogh quote makes a difference for me.
I believe “there is nothing more artistic than loving people” because I have felt my heart revive by merely choosing to see people with love instead of judgement, and have seen rooms light up when people were selfless, and been moved beyond words when someone used their gifts (however small) with genuine passion for others.
I feel deep, inexplicable joy when I cross paths with someone who lives as if every individual and every moment has meaning.
So similar to the joy I experience when I see a Van Gogh painting.
My romantic relationships and my work relationships improved when I quit worrying about how I was being perceived, or how I was being treated, what had just happened, or what was going to happen next. So did my tennis game. And my relationship with my kids and in-laws. And my health. And my joy. And my ability to have a good night’s sleep.
It took me over thirty years to figure that out with relationships. Over ten with something as inconsequential as tennis. Still working on it with new clients, new challenges, and strangers.
Most of us spend our waking hours splintered out in so many directions that we don’t even know what true focus is. People who bring their complete attention and focus with them wherever they go are so rare that when we are lucky enough to meet one, we cannot forget them. They are distilled and refreshing power: the power we have always longed for.
For those of us who were born without
For those of us who will die early
For those of us with disease or deformity
For those of us who never knew the “right people”
For those of us with low IQs
Who didn’t go to school
Or have a job
For those of us without a home, shoes, clean clothes
There is the equanimity of sun and rain
Earth’s free gift of light and water
And, yes, a path that leads to the finish line
Where we are welcomed with honor
Men complain about their female exes, romantic interests, bosses, and co-workers being the b-word, manipulative, or impossible to please. Women complain about men being selfish, self-centered, and shallow.
If we want to stop repeating the madness and find movie-quality soulmates, partners, or heroes, here are the rules:
- Quit assessing people by their outward beauty or body type (when I meet a man whose primary measurement of a woman is how fit, pretty, or built she is, or a woman who obsesses about bald, overweight, or old, I know I am in the presence of the immature and lonely)
- Look at all people the same (don’t measure by what they are or do, $$, or possessions)
- Forgive everyone (bitter people are not attractive)
- Honor your suffering instead of complaining about it (the nicest people in the world are often those who have suffered most)
- Give generously (and forget about getting something back)
Everyone is looking for a way to distinguish themselves.
Everyone wants love.
We can deny it or hide it, but all of us crave connection and a way to contribute our gifts.
When I feel the lack of these things, I can choose to withdraw. I can choose to rage against those who seem to have what I lack. Or I can choose to make a difference for those who are also in need of connection and contribution.
These people are everywhere. They are my neighbors. They are my enemies or my competitors. They are the strangers I fear or the friends I have yet to meet.
If I remember this when my own plans (for who should love me, or who should value my gifts) crumble, I will thrive.
This absurd sentence was actually in my mind as I was rushing a goodbye at the airport. Although it was funny, I regretted my hurry later when I realized I hadn’t even turned around to acknowledge the person who was kindly seeing me off at the bottom of the two-story escalator.
As a parent, as a lover, as a friend, as a worker, I have rushed past delight to catch details, dinner, and ultimately, delusion too many times. The escalator would always be there, other things wouldn’t be.
Nostalgia should be enough to convince us that nothing is ever better than right here, right now.
I love this quote.
And, it is not just true for women. I love a man who is not trying to be macho, sexy, better than someone else, witty, charming, or any of the things they think may attract women or make them look good.
I much prefer a person comfortable enough in their own skin to see past their own self-absorption (as the Geico Gecko). It is that quality alone that allows someone to truly see and enjoy the other human beings around them.
Finding love…for those of us who have money, and for those of us who don’t…
“The only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check. “I’ll buy a million dollar’s worth of love.” But it doesn’t work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.” – Warren Buffett
For rich and poor:
Be loveable. Give love. NO STRINGS ATTACHED. NO EXPECTATIONS. You won’t be disappointed.
Buffett quote reminder courtesy of: https://uldisblog.wordpress.com/aboutme/
The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep.
However gradual It looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.
This stanza from W.H. Auden’s poem is certainly about risky love, but the sentiment can be applied to a multitude of decisions in our lives that will take us off the beaten path, away from the mundane, and into a more adventurous, fulfilling life.
Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to becoming that person we admire.
We can’t kid ourselves forever. Living vicariously through movies, games, books, fantasy, or our children will never be enough.
Today, I wish that courage to leap for you and for me.
Chardin was not advocating recklessness: only courage.