The secret of happiness: learn from the misfortunes of unlucky artists and misunderstood geniuses

A couple of days ago I was in the library and in the throes of total boredom I began to think of all those artists and personalities recognised as such only after they had passed away.

I started to empathize with the distress and despair of a human being whose life was entirely spent in a dedication of thoughts, words, actions and omissions that were not taken the least into consideration. Then that human died and on their tomb they engraved the words because I’m worth it.

Galileo Galilei could have spent his life enjoying the tuscan scenery, sipping red wine and eating millet porridge. But instead he went to the trouble of discovering things such as the Ganymede, the weight of the air and the isochronism of pendulum swings. Rather than being awarded one thousand cherry points he was suspected of heresy, accused of subversion, sentenced to jail and forced to renege his ideas. Today every encyclopedia defines him as the father of modern science. So much for leading a happy life huh

galileo life on Mars 1.jpg

Vincent Van Gogh could have bought himself a box of crayons and a colouring book and ended it there. But no, he let himself get carried away by an obsessive compulsive art therapy which consisted of 900 paintings and more than a thousand doodles no one gave a fuck about.  All topped off with: being named after his dead older brother, Protestant pastor father, voluntary burning of his own hand after his cousin refused his courtship, co-habitation with a thirty year old prostitute who also happened to be an alcoholic and scarred by smallpox, and from whom he got gonorrhoea. He was also affected by bipolar disorders, severed ears, schizophrenia, alcoholism, and various other troubles which ended with his death by fire arm when he was only 37 years old. Suicide was and remains the most likely of hypothesis, but maybe not. Today Van Gogh is recognised as one of the greatest painters in history and his paintings are amongst the most expensive in the world. Talk about enjoying life eh.

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Antonio Vivaldi could have continued playing the violin, practice that worked well, brought him great honours and enough money to buy all the wigs his heart desired. Instead he went ahead and produced more than 800 compositions which were, at the time, mildly successful but were soon forgotten like a measly pair of hairy Birkenstocks. So he decided to abandon the quiet and peaceful Venice of those times, to embark on a search for fame and coins in Vienna, but, just as it always happens in the worst games of Monopoly, he had to miss a turn: War of the Austrian Succession, crisis, closure of all theatres, depression, intestinal infection, death. So ignored by the world that the house in which he died is now a Hotel with the name of a cake. His biography is one of the most inaccurate of all time, because before the 20th Century he remained unknown and unappreciated by the general public. Today, Vivaldi is considered one of the greatest composers of the Baroque Era, his “Spring” Composition remained for years a hit within the call centres of the world, they named a crater on Mercury after him and his “Four Seasons” are remembered every time we decide which pizza to order. Talk about appreciating his talent. 

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Also big shout out to Nietzsche, Baudelaire, Edgar Allan Poe ect. So I can’t help but wonder if it’s actually worth the pain to do great things while having a 50% chance that no one will appreciate and suffer the humiliation of not being understood by your fellow era mates. And if we then add Saturn and the planets working against us, with the probability rate of failure shooting up to 80%, is it really worth ruining our mood in an endless quest to change the history of mankind? 

Why become unhappy trying to change the history of the world when we can become happy by changing the story of our lives? How many times do we feel wrong? We have to forget about expectations and anxiety, we shouldn’t live to make others happy, but to make ourselves happy, so free your inspiration, do what you like when you like it, but above all do what you please without fear of being judged.

As long as it’s legal of course; P

Galileo Life on Mars
Wise words Galileo, wise words.


3 responses to “The secret of happiness: learn from the misfortunes of unlucky artists and misunderstood geniuses

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