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Friday, February 18, 2011

Almond Blossoms

Tonight I ordered a print of “Almond Blossoms” by Vincent van Gogh.  He wrote the following regarding this painting:

My work was going well, the last canvas of branches in blossom--you will see that it was perhaps the best, the most patiently worked thing I had done, painted with calm and with a greater firmness of touch. And the next day, down like a brute. Difficult to understand, things like that, but alas! it's like that.
Letter 628
Vincent to Theo
St. Rémy, 15 April 1890

I like the artist’s frank admission that he has good days and bad days.  The bad days may produce works of tumultuous genius, while the good days, serene beauty.  That is why it is so important in our daily relations to realize that the manifestation from others that we see is really a behavior that can be placed on a continuum of conduct for that person.  This is easiest to understand and appreciate from those we see daily.  We have a much more complete picture of their behavior and can place today’s actions in a larger context.  However, when encountering the public at large, all our knowledge of the person, often a total stranger, is what we see in a brief moment.  Most everyone regrets their making a jackass of themselves at one time or another—frequently this outlandish behavior is during one of those fleeting public encounters where amends cannot be made to the people affected.  One time I made a jackass of myself at Subway.  I thought a sign relating to prices was not explicit enough and took it out on the vulnerable person behind the counter.  I have relived that moral lapse many times and realize the only possible way to amend it is to vow never to do it again.  Nevertheless, I must live with the knowledge that the harm I did in the past can never be totally redeemed by future actions.  So, as I mount “Almond Blossoms” over the dining room mantel, I will remember as much as humanly possible to gift my best presentations while saying about the rest “but alas! It’s like that.”

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