I have a new art print in my home, all framed and hanging happily in my family room.
What makes Van Gogh’s The Mulberry Tree so special to me is that I found it at, what was for me, a very difficult time in my life. I had spent most of the previous year trying to pick up the pieces of my shattered life. I truly wondered if I would ever be really be happy again. What I went through isn’t important, we all have excruciating days and sometimes years where the sun just doesn’t seem to rise for us. I found solace in reading, meditating, and praying and begging God to help me rise above the ashes.
So in May of this year (2015) I made a trip to see my sister and my parents in Chino, California. I found solace with them. My sister Carolyn is a magnificent person. She is smart, intelligent, non-judgmental, and so very fun to be around. I knew I could count on a weekend of fun diversion with Carolyn. Everyone needs to forget their troubles once in a while. We went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena one afternoon. Beautiful art is divine. I had fun wandering the exhibits with Carolyn.
And then I saw this Van Gogh painting. “The Mulberry Tree”
I couldn’t stop staring at it. The colors, the harsh brush strokes, all fascinating. Then I read the plaque and began to cry.
How is possible to suffer and still see beauty all around you? How did Van Gogh paint this and many other work of arts when he was at the lowest point of his life? In fact his suffering would claim his life, just months after this painting. I have no idea what it is to have a mental illness but I do know what it is suffer and yet to still desperately try to see the beauty of life.
I came home from that respite of a weekend, bought this print at art.com and it now happily hangs in my home. It reminds me that the beauty of life is everywhere—even in a Mulberry Tree at an asylum,as depicted by a man, gifted and troubled. There is always beauty no matter the turmoil. Don’t give up.