I love this insight from Vincent Van Gogh, there is so much wisdom within it and I am sure it’s one of the secrets to his genius in the world of art.
I used to own a print of Van Gogh’s, the one with the sunflowers in a large urn, it always intrigued me that such simple flowers could look so stunning. Whilst Van Gogh was a well known established and accomplished artist, I had no idea he had such depth and wisdom.
In my opinion, his statement shows one of the most important attitudes we all need to have in life if we are to live in such a way that brings real fulfilment and a knowing that we have achieved all that life could bring us.
I believe that a person who is always keen to learn more no matter what stage of life they are at, what limitations seem to be in their circumstances or what mistakes they may make on the way, this is a person who achieves much.
When we limit ourselves because we don’t know how to do something, or because we tried something and it didn’t work out. Or, perhaps someone else criticised our attempt. It’s in these times that we need to remind ourselves that we are just doing what we can’t do YET in order to learn how to do it!
If we look closely, it would appear that the most successful people in history have walked this walk in one way or another. It would appear that if this is where we find ourselves, we are in good company because we are in the place of being able to do what we can’t do yet.
We happily expect a baby to go through a period of hanging onto furniture and our hands when they first start to explore the whole idea of walking. It is a process of trial and error, up and down, over and over, as they do what they can’t while learning how to do master their task of walking. Why then do we have different expectations on ourselves and others when they try new things? Why don’t we give ourselves and each other the encouragement we do naturally to a baby learning new things?
I have learnt in life that people are robbed of so much when they aren’t sure how to do something. The opportunity is before them to expand and receive the joy of accomplishment however just because it might take real effort, perseverance and sometimes going against the tide and doing what others may seem is foolish, sadly they miss the opportunity.
This is sad, indeed. Imagine how many people would have missed enjoying the art of Van Gogh if he wasn’t willing ‘to do what he can’t yet in order to do what he can’.
As parents, this was one of the main lessons Rob and I chose to teach our children. In fact, we still have a saying on our fridge that says, “never give up”. We firmly believe that it is important to keep going until you have conquered the challenge and then once the glow of satisfaction has dimmed, it’s time to look for another.
Learning new things brings so much joy and a sense of accomplishment. It keeps our brains growing, our personalities developing and gives us so much more to contribute to those around us. Countless studies show that facing new challenges makes us healthier physically, emotionally and intellectually and I believe spirituality.
This past week while we were away on a family holiday with our whole family (twenty-one of us) I learnt a new card game that my granddaughter, Mia, taught me. I found it challenging to understand the concepts of the game for the first few hands but eventually, I got it and now I get to enjoy the game with Mia and other family members. I know a card game taught to me by a six-year-old may not be a big deal, however, it’s just a small example of how learning new things brings joy when we hang in there.
If I had to choose the one thing that has been the hardest thing for me to learn, and something that brought the most judgement against me and yet brought so much satisfaction and joy, it would be learning how to read well. Overcoming Dyslexia has created in me not just the ability to read well, but it created a strength, empathy for others, insight, and appreciation of myself for who I am and what I can achieve and what I can contribute to others. While others said I couldn’t do it I did as Van Gogh did and learnt how to do it regardless.
Let’s encourage our children, grandchildren and others including ourselves to commit to continually learning. To never give up and know that we WILL learn how to if we hang in there regardless.