Pain-2-Power in a Letter to Vincent Van Gogh
Pain-2-Power is all about examining our ingrained patterns of emotion and behavior, in order to become authentic. It is also about using any adversity to further examine those patterns and build the best of them—like courage, compassion and creativity.
The journey to the self is one of claiming and disclaiming. We claim that which is truly consistent with our soul and we disclaim that which we have adopted simply because it seemed convenient or comforting. It isn’t easy to exit an orbit that has held us firmly in place, even when we know the orbit is keeping us from the journey we ought to be taking.
Nicole Krauss, a celebrated writer, wrote an open letter to Vincent Van Gogh that makes that point so eloquently that I am sharing it here. I hope you will be moved by it and that it might help you embrace what can be the next and best chapters of your life story:
You write about fear: Fear of the blank canvas, but also, on a larger scale, of the “infinitely meaningless, discouraging blank side” that life itself always turns toward us, and which can only be countered when a person “steps in and does something,” when he “breaks” or “violates.”
It’s extraordinary that I should have been given your letter now, because it is exactly that act of breaking that has been on my mind this last year, and which I feel has everything to do with how I want to make art, and how I want to live.
It’s a strange thing about the human mind that, despite its capacity and its abundant freedom, its default is to function in a repeating pattern. It watches the moon and the planets, the days and seasons, the cycle of life and death all going around in an endless loop, and unconsciously, believing itself to be nature, the mind echoes these cycles. Its thoughts go in loops, repeating patterns established so long ago we often can’t remember their origin, or why they ever made sense to us. And even when these loops fail over and over again to bring us to a desirable place, even while they entrap us, and make us feel anciently tired of ourselves, and we sense that sticking to their well-worn path means we’ll miss contact with the truth every single time, we still find it nearly impossible to resist them. We call these patterns of thought our “nature” and resign ourselves to being governed by them as if they are the result of a force outside of us, the way that the seas are governed — rather absurdly, when one thinks about it — by a distant and otherwise irrelevant moon.
Continue reading Nicole’s letter HERE.
Dr. Keith Ablow