The Idée Fixe

The east park garden in bloom.

The east park garden in bloom.

To quote Van Gogh from a letter to his brother: “Principles are good and worth the effort only when they develop into deeds. . . . The great doesn’t happen through impulse alone, and is a succession of little things that are brought together.”

Which leads to a discussion about what happens between the the thought (impulse to action) and the action. Santiago Ramón y Cajal called them “diseases of the will”:
1. There are the ineffectual but enthusiastic contemplators,
2. The pretentious intellectuals who stumble into endless erudition, but never stop preparing,
3. There are those who puff up with over-confidence, and mostly believe in miracles,
4. There are those who never manage to get the inside to the outside: the thoughts inside the mind out into the world,
5. There are the talkers, the groupies, who endlessly mine the minds of others,
6. And there are the bibliophiles–lost in book after book after book after book . . .
Who have I left out? Certainly not myself!
What have I left out? Well, I’ve left out all the parts of life that fill it up with things that have to be done, and done NOW! And I’ve left out the parts of life that have more to do with the corporeal than the ethereal: the body and the mind get tired, hungry, sore, restless, sometimes sick, sometimes anxious, often worried, frequently on hold. I’ve left out time. I’ve left out the constraints of the human condition that make it necessary to keep on keeping on with the mundane.
Now van Gogh pretty much retired to a solitude. But before then he was attracted to trouble–finding women he wanted to help: not a recipe for a steady life. Living in the days before modern medicine, he turned to art for it’s therapeutic benefit: it worked for him. It worked well enough that he spent his money on art instead of food: in the end, that didn’t work for him.
But he painted.
So let me add:
7. Life happens between the impulse and it’s manifestation. Those who manage to bring forth the pregnant impulse do so at a price.
It’s a choice, always a choice. Many say life needs to be balanced, should be balanced. But what, exactly, comes from balance? Happiness? Success? (If success can be defined.)
What is important? All I know is that what is important seems to have a short attention span. It’s like the weather near the ocean: wait a few minutes and it will change.
There is a buoy out there in the water: memory. Idée fixe, that is OBSESSION seems to be the only way to birth the interior self. Obsession has a bad reputation, though I can’t imagine why. It’s uniquely the obsessive impulse that leaves any trace of the interior self behind.
It’s Friday. It’s only on Friday that I have time like this to let my mind wander into words–at least until September. Until then, I’m a gardener. The garden, at any time of the year, is a muse. But it’s in July and August–during the summer heat–that all the work has to be done: the digging and shipping of the iris. And it’s in July and August that my mind goes into neutral: not much conscious thinking goes on on when there’s work to be done. Still, it thinks. It must still think, because while it rests it manages to put its house in order. July and August are my mind’s respite from itself.
M L S Baisch

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