Tag Archives: Caravaggio

Take a Poll

I have posted over 200 blogs to date about how best to find your happiness.  These blogs, together with the videos found on this site as well as my book, have spanned the worlds of philosophy, positive psychology, mythology, and the fine arts.  I have even touched on how the religions of the world have an influence on happiness in this life, versus their primary focus on achieving happiness in the next life.

I now feel at a loss in presenting any new material – I feel that I have said all that needs to be said about what the great thinkers and artists believe is the road to happiness in this life.  I think that the material in my book, in my videos, and in my blogs offer enough guidance to help you find your road to happiness.

However, I would like to now go in a different direction by looking at how others are viewing their own roads to happiness.  What I would like to do is begin with a poll.  The results of this poll will let you see how others are viewing their roads to happiness, which might differ from your own.

Let’s begin with a very famous painting that I discuss in my book – The Calling of St. Matthew, by Caravaggio.  This painting presents Christ pointing to Matthew seated at the table, requesting that Matthew accept his call.  Art historians of the past several centuries have debated among themselves as to which man at the table Christ is pointing to.  Based on the works of the great thinkers as well as the works of the great masters of the fine arts (including Caravaggio), I believe that Christ is pointing to one man in particular.

Putting aside for the moment the religious aspects of this painting, which are important in their own right, let’s focus instead on the decision to accept the call to a future adventure presented by Christ.  At the table is Matthew, surrounded by his friends, who is being sent the call.  The acceptance of this call by Matthew is the focus of this great painting.  Caravaggio depicts Matthew as the one man at the table who possesses all the requirements needed to succeed in the Adventure being proposed by Christ.

The man at the table that you select is a reflection of whether you are on the proper road to happiness or not.  The following poll will reveal whether others agree with you.

Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio

The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio (1599-1600)

Here is the poll.



Beginning of the Adventure

The road to happiness is broken into three broad segments: 1) preparation for the journey, 2) the journey, and 3) the adventure.

Having a caring family and a functional society contribute to any individual’s preparation for the journey.  I have already discussed this in earlier posts.

Harnessing the entrepreneur with each of us is the best way to make the journey by developing social skills and self-esteem that lead to confidence, strength, achievement, prestige, and financial comfort.  Academic research indicates that successful entrepreneurs exhibit these same traits of education/training, social skills, and high self-esteem.  Those exhibiting these characteristics have the best chance of reaching the end of the journey.  The last several posts have discussed this journey.

Once the journey has been completed, then the road continues with the adventure.  The adventure of any individual begins with a call or summons.  The call is the command to leave behind the journey and accept the adventure into the unknown.  Those that receive this call, and recognize it, are put in a very tough position.  They are asked to select the road less traveled into an unknown future, rather than stay on the more popular path that others are on.  This is very difficult to do; after all, the individual who has reached this point most likely has a very comfortable life, with financial comfort, many friends, and the prestige and recognition of others in his/her community.

This tough position, the pondering of the call or summons to the adventure, is seen in the following two artworks.  Both works are very dramatic and are among the greatest of artworks ever created.

The Calling of St. Matthew (Caravaggio, 1599-1600, San Luigi Dei Francesi, Rome)

Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio The arrivals on the right are poor people with bare feet and simple garments.  Their appearance contrasts sharply with the richly clothed Matthew and his four companions.  A strong beam of light guides the eye from the outstretched hand of Jesus across to Matthew.   Among art scholars is debate as to whether Matthew is the bearded man pointing to himself (with a look of surprise) or the younger man with his head down (looking bewildered and uncertain, but comfortable in his status and wealth).

Fifth Symphony, First Movement (Beethoven, 1804-1808)

This work, perhaps the artist’s most famous, begins with the popular four-note motif.  It is suggested that these notes represent fate (or the call) knocking at the door.  This motif is repeated throughout the piece.  What is clear is that a decision has not been made.  The knock comes several times during the piece.  Perhaps this piece echoes the sentiments of the Caravaggio painting regarding the uncertainty and hesitancy of accepting the call – a call that is awaiting a decision. 

Next up: the details of the adventure.