‘I live soberly because I have a chance to do it, I drank in the past because I did not quite know how to do otherwise. Anyway, I don’t care in the least!!! Very deliberate sobriety –it’s true –leads nevertheless to a state of being in which thought, if you have any, moves more readily. In short, it is a difference like painting in grey or in colours.”
~ Vincent Van Gogh, Letter to Theo and Johnanna, St Remy, (5 July 1889)
Vincent painted 150 paintings while in the 51-person asylum, St Remy. Some of his most beautiful paintings include his sunflower series and the roses I so love and which I experienced my “Van Gogh Moment” in New York. He died a year later, on the 29th July 1890, reportedly taking his own life. Several months before being forcibly placed in a mental asylum, Vincent wrote to his brother:
“I took advantage of my outing to buy a book, Ceux de la Glèbe, by Camille Lemonnier. I have devoured two chapters of it – it has such gravity, such depth! Wait till I send it you. This is the first time for several months that I have had a book in my hand. That means a lot to me and does a good deal towards my cure….M. Rey says that instead of eating enough and at regular times, I was keeping myself going by coffee and alcohol. I admit all that, but it is true all the same that to attain the high yellow note that I attained last summer, I really had to be pretty well strung up. And that finally, the artist is a man with his work to do, and it is not for the first slacker who comes along to do him down for good. Am I to suffer imprisonment or the madhouse? Why not? . . .”
Van Gogh, Vincent. The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh, (Letter to Theo, Arles, 24 March 1889)
In 2023, after reading Vincent’s letters, I renewed my commitment to live soberly. In the past, I’ve written about mindful drinking which was less about abstinence and more about allowing yourself just one or two drinks: Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life). This can be a game-changing approach for many. Not everyone has to or wants to break up with alcohol.
But recently, I’ve begun to question the place of alcohol in my life again—and come to the conclusion that there is none. In the last two months alone, I know personally of young people with a terminal cancer diagnoses because of their excessive alcohol consumption. I know of others off work on ACC due to alcohol-related accidents leading to brain bleeds and the inability to walk. I know, personally, of people like Vincent, who suffered alcohol-induced psychosis and were committed by force into mental institutions, left untreated and unable to regain their liberty for lengthy periods of time. I know of artists like my muse Helen Frankenthaler who were assaulted by their drunk and abusive partners. Then there are others, like Jackson Pollock, who drove himself and others to death—literally driving his car into a tree while intoxicated.
As Drew Barrymore shares, I’ve come to realise I’m just not the kind of gal who enjoys a glass or two…I’ll often hit the bottle. I mean, it takes nice, right? Well, no wonder, when you look at how many drinks are loaded with sugar and other additives to mask the taste of ethanol.
Recently I’ve been enthralled by reading the letters Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother. But as I read, I was also disturbed. I wondered. what if Vincent had been helped earlier on to understand the impact his alcohol consumption was having on his mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health?
“Meantime you do understand that if alcohol has undoubtedly been one of the great causes of my madness, then it came very slowly and will go slowly too, supposing it does go, of course. Or if it comes from smoking, the same thing. But I should only hope that it –this recovery [word omitted] the frightful superstition of some people on the subject of alcohol, so that they prevail upon themselves never to drink or smoke . . .”
~ Vincent Van Gogh
In this video, Vincent shares how art gave him a reason for living
Who knows how many beauty-inspired, uplifting, healing artworks Vincent Van Gogh may have produced had alcohol not ruined his life? Like many talented people, including songstress Amy Winehouse, Vincent left us far too early. How about you? Well you join the rebellious few who are breaking up with alcohol in 2023?
As Seth Godin writes on his fab blog:
…is surprisingly easy.
“We’ve done all this work and things haven’t gotten better,” so, apparently, we should stop trying and go back to what we were doing.
“We’ve done all this work and things are getting better,” so that means that there’s no need to keep trying and we can go back to what we were doing.
The status quo might not be ideal, but if we’re afraid of change, if we focus on the costs of doing the work to make things better, it’s tempting to simply stay still.
And the real fears of change are that it might work (which is scary) and that it might not work (which is heartbreaking).
Easier to do nothing and simply settle.
Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:
To grab your copy from Amazon, click here>>getbook.at/MindYourDrink
To grab your copy from iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other great bookstores, click here>> https://books2read.com/u/bQBLj0
To grab your copy from Kobo, click here>>https://www.kobo.com/ebook/mind-your-drink-the-surprising-joy-of-sobriety-1
Or direct from the author http://www.thejoyfulartist.co.nz/product/mind-your-drink-the-surprising-joy-of-sobriety
Did you enjoy this post?
You might like:
Here are three more things you might like:
Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.
Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.
Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to this blog and receive a free gift when you sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters and get more help to live your best life.
Posted in: Blog
Tags: vincent van gogh
I am an artist, storyteller, intuitive guide, mentor and Reiki master. All my creations are infused with positive energy , inspiration, and light. I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform your life. My greatest joy is helping your realize your dreams. That makes my soul sing!
RECENT BLOG POSTS