The Adventure as Portrayed by Three Artists (Part 1)

The Adventure is the second and last part of the road to happiness. Once the Adventure is complete then one is at the threshold of happiness.

The Adventure is that part of the road from the “good life” to the threshold of happiness.  This segment involves exercising the virtues, attained during the Journey, to complete one’s call or mission in life.  The virtues required are: wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice (as mentioned by the Stoics).  The acquisition of these four virtues delivers one to the threshold of happiness.

Wisdom is the virtue to recognize the call or summons that has been sent and to see the path of the Adventure that must be undertaken to follow the call.  Courage is the virtue to accept the call and begin the Adventure along the illuminated path.  Temperance is the virtue of moderation and fortitude to withstand the many temptations of power, fame, and riches that will be encountered along the Adventure.  Justice is the virtue of caring for one’s family and community by a willingness to deliver the boon or treasure (the reason for the Adventure) captured during the Adventure.  Those who exhibit these four virtues will be the ones most capable of delivering the boon of the Adventure to help society to flourish.  These same individuals will be the ones most likely to reach the threshold of happiness.

In my book, I present a number of artists that portray each of the three segments of the Adventure, which are displayed in the fourth, fifth, and sixth galleries.  It just so happens that three specific paintings from my book are all that is needed to illustrate the Adventure.  It is also interesting that these three paintings represent individuals alone on their quest.  These paintings of the Adventure differ from those of the Journey, in which the characters are surrounded by one’s family and/or friends.  The following paintings represent individuals attempting to satisfy the final Maslow need – self-actualization.  The four paintings that I discussed in earlier posts (those by Van Gogh, Brueghel the Elder, Renoir, and Rembrandt) illustrate individuals attempting the satisfy the fist four Maslow needs in an attempt to enjoy flow experiences.

What I would like to do in this blog and several future blogs is present just the three paintings that illustrate the Adventure.  It will be interesting to see how each painter goes about presenting the corresponding segment of the Adventure and how they differ from one another.

Let’s begin.  This first painting, Old Mill or The Morning Bell, by Winslow Homer depicts a girl who has the wisdom (first virtue) to see the illuminated path of her Adventure – a path away from her friends (friends from her Journey segment of the road to happiness) and towards the unknown to the left of the painting.  The painting also express the second virtue of courage.  She is not afraid to follow the path or calling that has been put before her to travel.

800px-Old_Mill_The_Morning_Bell_by_Winslow_Homer_1871

This picture represents extraordinary subtlety. The painting presents the path, previously taken, leading to the fork in the road where the girl is standing. She appears to have made her decision to travel upward along the road less traveled rather than downward towards the more popular path of her friends to the right. The sunlight is bathing the girl in warmth. The picture does not show us where the girl is traveling except that it is an upward climb into the distance. Perhaps this is the artist’s interpretation of the acceptance of the call; leaving others behind and entrance into an unknown future, willingly accepted.

If the Adventure is to be successful, the first two virtues must be exercised.  Wisdom will allow for the call of the Adventure to be recognized and courage will propel the individual forward along the path illuminated by wisdom.  However, as evident in the painting, happiness has not been reached – the girl is hopeful but still concerned about her decision to take the “road less traveled.”

Two additional virtues will be needed to bring the adventurer to the threshold of happiness.

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