And now for as much as five years, perhaps, I don’t know exactly, I’ve been more or less without a position, wandering hither and thither. Now you say, from such and such a time you’ve been going downhill, you’ve faded away, you’ve done nothing. Is that entirely true?
It’s true that sometimes I’ve earned my crust of bread, sometimes some friend has given me it as a favour; I’ve lived as best I could, better or worse, as things went; it’s true that I’ve lost several people’s trust, it’s true that my financial affairs are in a sorry state, it’s true that the future’s not a little dark, it’s true that I could have done better, it’s true that just in terms of earning my living I’ve lost time, it’s true that my studies themselves are in a rather sorry and disheartening state, and that I lack more, infinitely more than I have. But is that called going downhill, and is that called doing nothing?
Perhaps you’ll say, but why didn’t you continue as people would have wished you to continue, along the university road?
To that I’d say only this, it costs too much and then, that future was no better than the present one, on the road that I’m on. But on the road that I’m on I must continue; if I do nothing, if I don’t study, if I don’t keep on trying, then I’m lost, then woe betide me. That’s how I see this, to keep on, keep on, that’s what’s needed.
But what’s your ultimate goal, you’ll say. That goal will become clearer, will take shape slowly and surely, as the croquis becomes a sketch and the sketch a painting, as one works more seriously, as one digs deeper into the originally vague idea, the first fugitive, passing thought, unless it becomes firm.
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh