Friday, September 25, 2009

My Life's Aim...

In a letter to his brother Theo, Van Gogh wrote the following words:

"And my aim in my life is to make pictures and drawings, as many and as well as I can; then, at the end of my life, I hope to pass away, looking back with love and tender regret, and thinking, “Oh, the pictures I might have made!”

I was on a trip to New Mexico this weekend and because of past experiences, I've learned to never leave my camera home. And, after this trip, I'll learn to never leave my spare camera battery home. I thought I was doing well to charge it the night before leaving. But, as I quickly learned, a charged battery does little if you don't have it with you.

After making a couple of stops along the way to take pictures, I looked down and noticed that the 'low battery' light was flashing on my camera. Fortunately, I had taken all of the pictures that I wanted to take that day...knowing that I would be back in a few days to take any others that I might like.

On my return trip to Salt Lake City, I made a quick stop at my favorite 'elephant graveyard' and took a few more pictures. A few miles down the road I also passed a familiar tree. The last time I saw it was on a cold December afternoon. This time it was a lot different. It turns out that the last picture I was able to take was of this tree against a blue sky.

I made many more stops on the way home and as I did, I looked back with tender regret and thought, 'Oh the pictures I might have taken.'

I came across long stretches of straight roads that trailed off over the horizon, the silhouette of deer feeding along the side of the road, the Balanced Rock & Delicate Arch, as well as many other photos that made wish I had remembered to bring the spare battery.

So, take as many pictures as you can, as well as you can...then, when your battery runs out, you can look back on the pictures that you might have taken and save them for another day. But as 'way leads on to way' it's never certain you'll be back.

This is what is believed to be one of Van Gogh's last paintings (Daubigny's Garden...there's also a version with a black cat).

He followed up his thought to Theo with these words: 'But this does not exclude making what is possible, mind you.' So, do what you can while you can...AND do the best you can.


  1. Beautifully profound. I was so sad for you when I read your Facebook status about your battery. I'm sure the pictures you would have taken would have been awesome.

    However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the contrast between picture 1 and picture 2 of that awesome tree! Beautiful! It reminds me of a children's book that I read once about the 4 seasons, but executed much better of course :) Way to be awesome!

  2. P.S. Let's count how many times I can say "awesome"...thesaurus much? sheesh