Today’s picture is Starry Night Over the Rhône, painted in 1888 by Van Gogh. Now, I will admit, I am not much of an art critic and would barely know one end of the brush from another. Recently a piece of work was sold for $120m that quite frankly I am sure I could have knocked up in an afternoon by spilling paint on the floor and falling into it. I like landscapes, but there is some impressionist art that really stirs my soul. It’s based on reality but there is something deeply personal and interesting about it. You get to see the world through the eyes of someone else and gain a whole new perspective on something that looks ordinary.
“At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.” – Vincent van Gogh.
While Van Gogh was out painting his stars, how many people looked into the sky or into the horizon and wondered what on Earth he could be painting at night? How many people were wrapped up in their own world that they were unable to see the bigger picture of a universe lighting up for them to enjoy, unable to see the colours and hues that mesmerised Van Gogh? How many people who live in cities, when taking a trip away from the light-polluted world they inhabit look into the sky and a million points of light shining down on them?
“I don’t know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.” – Vincent van Gogh.
Seeing stars does make people dream. I am not sure if it’s the idea of points of hope in the darkness, or the comfort of knowing that in an infinite universe the problems we face are really not as big as they seem. We get to look directly at the handiwork of an infinite God and feel small and a part of infinity all at once. We get to see things seen by billions of people over the centuries and be a part of history. At the same time, we get to see it in a totally unique way, just like Van Gogh did.
The world is full of people who kept believing and dreaming when life was at its darkest. Sir Winston Churchill when he came to power in World War II told Soviet Ambassador Ivan Maisky, “My general strategy at present is to last out the next three months.” How much darker can a situation be? And yet, this day by day hope was enough to change the entire course of world history. It is easy in the darkness to think only of stumbling, but as you walk through times of darkness, keep your head up or you will miss the stars, and you may forget how to dream.
And if you’ve lost sight of the dream? Take a moment to look through the eyes of someone else and gain inspiration from them. If you can’t see the stars, slip into the mind of Van Gogh and see the stars how he saw them. There is inspiration and hope all around. And if you are following your dream, remember that at one time you needed support and inspiration to get there. Pass it on to someone who needs it today.