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Humans are capable of enduring a tremendous amount of suffering, but why should we have to? Van Gogh’s depression has been capitalised on again and again over history. His depression has time and time again been advertised as this portrait of a tortured artist rather than something that filled his life with unnecessary pain, something that prematurely ended the life of a real, feeling, human being.
I hold a lot of respect for people who have taken their trauma, hurt, and history and transformed it into something empowering they can call their own. But at the end of the day, it is their person that I respect, not the suffering they had to endure.
And that is a way of thinking, feeling, that I had to learn. For a long time when I was younger, I truly did believe that hurting made you a better person, and that I would never make good, meaningful art, writing, so on, if I was happy. And that line of thinking was nothing if not self destructive.
I read somewhere someone saying that they’d rather have a world where someone like Van Gogh lived a long, happy life rather than have his art. That they’d rather have a world without the Sunflowers or Starry Night if it meant that he could have had a happy life. As gorgeous and inspiring as those pieces are, at the end of the day they are paintings. As priceless as they are, they still pale in comparison to the whole life of a human being that did not have to be as difficult as his was.
When someone says that humans can endure so much, so endure it: but what if, instead of pushing people to the edge to test their endurance, we can somehow diminish the pain in the first place? Why do people have to hurt to prove their worth?
At the end of the day, your pain is not what makes you a good, whole person deserving love and security. It is not your pain that deserves that love, it is you. And those two aren’t the same thing.