The Journey is the first part of the road to happiness. Once the Journey is complete, the road to happiness continues with the Adventure.
The Journey is that part of the road from birth leading up to the “good life.” This segment involves nurturing by one’s family, safety provided by society, belongingness with one’s family and community, and a sense of self-esteem for a job well-done. The nurturing and safety are provided to the individual by his/her family and society. Belongingness and self-esteem are derived from “involvement” and “exposure” activities undertaken to create a sense of “flow.” Flow is the experience of a distancing of oneself from the cares and worries of the everyday world. This longing for flow experiences brings about activities that lead to a sense of belonging and self-worth. It is through these activities undertaken during the Journey that one acquires the virtues needed for the Adventure.
I present a number of artists that portray each of these four segments of the Journey, which are displayed in the first three galleries of my book. It just so happens that four specific paintings from my book are all that is needed to illustrate the Journey. It is also interesting that these four paintings all involve activities around a meal with others.
What I would like to do in this blog and several future blogs is present just the four paintings that illustrate the Journey. It will be interesting to see how each painter goes about presenting the corresponding segment of the Journey and how they differ from one another.
Let’s begin. The painting below, The Potato Eaters, is by Van Gogh, his favorite of all his paintings. The painting depicts a family happy just to have food on the table. There is very little else on the minds of the characters beyond having food to eat.
The lamp illuminates the faces of these workers, shown as compassionate and caring of one another. The character whose face is not seen, most likely a child, appears anxious for the food and grateful for the meal, supplied by the other adults at the table. This scene represents Maslow’s utopia for those who are simply attempting to satisfy the most basic need: a place in which there is plenty of food for the chronically and extremely hungry among us.
This is the very beginning of the Journey for all of us. It would be difficult to move forward in life if all that you are concerned about is food and warmth. The next painting, by a very different artist, will take us forward along the Journey.
More in the next blog!