Showing posts with label Struggle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Struggle. Show all posts

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Respectfully Resurrect

As an artist and tech-savvy individual, my surprising journey into the world of Vincent van Gogh took an unexpected turn when I delved into the realm of artificial intelligence. Little did I know that my exploration would lead to a captivating endeavor – creating images of Van Gogh as if he had never left us, but instead continued his artistic journey in Paris. 

The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

AI interpretation
Years ago, then as a student in art college, my fascination with Van Gogh's unique style and emotive use of color prompted me to study his life and work in detail. Van Gogh´s turbulent and tragically short life as a Dutch post-impressionist painter left an indelible mark on the art world. His emotionally charged brushstrokes and vibrant color palette spoke volumes about his inner struggles and passion for art. 

AI interpretation of Vincent in Paris if he had not died age 37

Armed with the tools of our digital age, I decided to take my exploration a step further. Using AI technology, I began recreating the style of Van Gogh's iconic paintings, seeking to understand his techniques and immerse myself in the creative process that defined his legacy.

A unexpected breakthrough came when I started to ponder a fascinating "what if" scenario: What if Van Gogh hadn't met his untimely end in 1890, and instead, he had recovered from his mental health struggles to continue his artistic journey? The idea of creating images of a later-in-life Van Gogh living in Paris, a city synonymous with artistic inspiration, ignited my imagination.

AI interpretation

With the help of advanced AI algorithms, I embarked on a journey to visualize a hypothetical continuation of Van Gogh's life while also imagining the artistic evolution he might have undergone in a different timeline. What if Vincent had met with some success as an artist, like many of the impressionist painters that came before him? What if his brother Theo, an art dealer, had been fortunate selling the many paintings Vincent produced?

As I brought Van Gogh back to life through digital art, I couldn't help but marvel at the possibilities technology offered to reinterpret and extend the legacies of revered artists.
In this alternate reality, I envisioned Van Gogh thriving in the vibrant Parisian art scene, surrounded by fellow creatives and finding new inspiration in the city of lights. The result was a collection of images that blended the familiar with the speculative, providing a glimpse into the "what could have been" of Van Gogh's artistic journey.

AI interpretation of Vincent in Paris; successful artist. His brother Theo acting as his dealer.

Studying Van Gogh through the lens of AI not only deepened my appreciation for his art but also allowed me to play a part in crafting a unique narrative for one of history's most celebrated artists. In the realm of creative exploration, the intersection of art and technology continues to open new doors, offering a chance to reimagine and extend the legacies of those who have left an indelible mark on the canvas of history.

I would not mind if after I died, someone wished to respectfully resurrect me and my life work . . . perhaps I would be honored.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Angels Are Among Us

Angels are among us. Celestial beings with greater powers and insights than ours watch over us, pray for us and when given permission, assist us. Some people can see them. They can be felt, and even heard. Several times after my daughter died I heard her voice. I did not imagine but rather heard her voice and knew it was her.

These higher beings could easily show us much more, but generally, they do not interfere with our lives, since we are developing into higher beings ourselves and need to struggle. We cannot have answers and insights just gifted to us constantly. We must earn our way forward through our own resources.

Almost always angels arrive with peace, love and joy. When my daughter was dying, I was visited and witnessed smiles and felt gifts of deep love. Later I would be upset and wonder how the higher beings could be smiling at me while I cried in despair for help. 

Angels have a different perspective on suffering and tribulation. They see it as progress and when they witness a human suffer and go forward toward the light, they smile knowing the soul is growing like a young plant grows—drawing toward the sun and growing deep roots that will hold it from being blown away in storms. 

I wrote an article in 2002, after Naomi died:

The Smiling Angel

My twelve-year-old daughter Naomi startled me one day when she confided that she felt something scary following her. Seeking to bolster her confidence, I suggested turning around to face whatever it was. Five years later, we both came face to face with a monster that had been creeping up on her: we learned she was in the grip of a bone cancer that was spreading rapidly through her body. A track and field runner in high school, now Naomi teetered on the brink of death. This time she counseled me, saying, “Keep your chin up, Dad, and take deep breaths.”
While in public I tried my best to follow her advice, delivered like a true athlete, in private I fell on my knees and prayed for her protection and healing. During my prayers one day, I felt the presence of angels in the room; welcoming it as a sign my plea was heard, I gained faith that Naomi’s life would be spared. She also prayed, and wrote in her journal, “I know I am surrounded by spirits, and that is the feeling of the Lord.”
Initially it seemed that our prayers were being answered. Amidst the support of loved ones and a team of doctors, Naomi’s illness retreated. She spoke of her life-threatening illness as an opportunity and said, “Hardships can make us stronger. Every situation has some good in it.” Our family relaxed as she graduated from high school and made plans for college. But our faith was dealt a terrible blow when follow-up scans showed the cancer had come back and Naomi would have to face the prospect of dying painfully. With great valor she wrote a note to herself: “Show up and be lovingly present, no matter what it looks like out there or inside yourself. Always speak the truth of your heart.”
One night I fell on my knees tearfully begging God to spare my beloved daughter. As I finished praying, a smiling angel came to me with great compassion and love, as if to acknowledge that once again my prayers were heard. But my thankfulness quickly turned to anger. Furious at being helpless, I could not fathom how the angel could be smiling while I was so miserable.
Months later Naomi passed away, but my dismay at the helplessness I felt during the smiling angel’s visit stayed with me. Only recently, after an interlude of several years, have I made peace with it. Had I been able to listen, the angel would have told me: “We have been watching over you and are touched by your love for your daughter. Death cannot sever the bond you both have together. We see that your heart aches for the terrible events that have befallen her, but don’t dwell on the darkness. If it were possible to step back and notice how she meets her hardships, you too could not help but smile. Look at how she treasures life while battling the pain of her illness. Each day she puts her trust in God, sees beyond her grief, and holds her heart open. She is a ray of light in the darkness. God is pleased with your lovely Naomi and is protecting her. Rest assured that she will abide in eternal happiness.”
Now, as I continue to heal the pain of losing my daughter, a smile will cross my face. Feeling Naomi’s spirit, I know she is indeed at peace and happy. I can then hold my chin up, take deep breaths and pay close attention as she directs my heart to cherish all of life as a gift.

My book about Naomi: A Heart Traced in Sand

Sunday, March 24, 2013

No Bitterness

Naomi Boone, age 18
"I love my body, it has been so good to me." These were among the last words my daughter Naomi Boone spoke as she died at age nineteen. What is remarkable about Naomi's exclamation is that it came after a grueling two year battle with cancer.

I had been an intimate witness to her suffering. As soon as Naomi entered high-school she immersed herself into meaningful activity—joining the German club, the Ski club, and in sports running track and field and cross-country. When her cancer was diagnosed, she had been painfully lifting her leg into her car to drive to school. The verdict was grim for her survival.

The next two years were full of pain, exhilaration, uplifting victories and dreadful defeats. Naomi had expressed that she did not want to die a slow, painful death, but this is what fate had in store for her. In the end, she was forcing herself to eat, she could not walk, and was attached to an oxygen tank. Her lungs were full of disease, so that she suffocated to death. How was it then, that her final words were, "I love my body, it has been so good to me."

Naomi formed a special relationship with her mortal form. She knew that her body was in a life and death struggle, and she developed a tremendous compassion for it. She cheered it on, begging and supplicating, caressing and loving it. She saw her terrible conflict with cancer as an epic spiritual battle of light and dark, and she firmly planted herself on the side of light. As the disease gained the upper hand, and the life force she loved so dearly could not save her crippled form, she remained loyal and praised her troops for such a brave fight against insurmountable odds. Not a trace of bitterness.

When I meet tests, and get frustrated, I think of Naomi and her walk through the "valley of the shadow of death."

23rd Psalm, The Book of David

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 
 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 
 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 
 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Live Life Fully

For a lover, the greatest torment is separation from his love. It can be an agonizing pain if the goal of one’s longing is removed and becomes inaccessible. Perhaps this is why religions preach detachment as a means to happiness. If we cease to want, then neither do we lack. If we are near God, the All-Knowing, the Protecting, All-Bountiful, then we should be happy all the time, regardless of our outer circumstances. The difficulty is that we are part of the wondrous and terrible wheel of life and death, the Matrix of being. In Hindu scripture it is named the cause of suffering. We are told everything physical is fleeting and must end in death—leading to transformation and rebirth. Only the spiritual is changeless and imperishable. Yet, in this world, the physical is the vehicle for all our learning, our joy, satisfaction, jubilation, achievement and growth.

I learned how crushing this lesson could be when my beloved daughter Naomi became ill with cancer and two years later died. The anniversary of her death is tomorrow, July 5. She died in 1999 at the age of nineteen. How could I be detached from her? If I were a saint maybe I could stand back and say calmly, the Hand of God is at work and she is being transformed and taken by Him to a better place. The fact is, my heart was broken a thousand times by the demolition of her body which she loved so much and tried desperately to save, and after we buried her I cried every day for six years. Granted, I know she became a radiant light during her calamity and is now among the chosen in paradise, yet I will never “get over” the loss of her here, in this physical world. Is it because I am not detached?

In the Baha’i historical record is a transcendent figure named Nabil. He was the close, devoted follower of the prophet Baha’u’llah and wrote the definitive history of the Baha’i revelation, called The Dawn-Breakers. At the time of Baha’u’llah’s death, Nabil became so distraught that he walked into the ocean and drowned himself. He could not be detached from his beloved or live in this world without Him. The pain was unbearable. I understand, although I also know this life is but the time of a blink of an eye in eternity and soon enough this dream will vanish and everlasting union will prevail.

From the other side, I often hear Naomi’s voice telling me to live life fully and appreciate its great beauty.  Soon enough it will be over, but now, love life and be glad for it.

To learn more about Naomi Boone and her life go to the website: A Heart Traced In Sand, Reflections On A Daughter's Struggle For Life

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Dazzling Celebration

Lately, when I wake in the morning, often I feel like I need help facing the day, so I say a prayer for assistance. Then, more often than not, little struggles ensue throughout the sunlight hours. It is not physical, since I almost never fall sick and I am in good health. But emotionally, when I face tasks, I am soon encumbered by disinterest. I wonder if I have been spoiled by my year of living dangerously, trekking with abandon across the globe on adventure after adventure. Also, the USA is not the same as when I left, and I feel life is collapsed inward. The economy is in shambles . . . and I have no income, so to speak. I am considering selling my possessions again, and moving to Asia, where I have friends and I can live for a fraction of the cost I am faced with now.
This morning I took a walk and flowers are in bloom everywhere. Flowers struggle too! First they must emerge from their dark, hard surroundings underground in their shell. Then they need sunlight, water and nutrients to feed their roots. They must not be stepped on or crushed. They are on a mission to grow to their full potential and create the flowers that make seeds that insure the survival of the species. They struggle against elemental opposition and when they succeed and bloom, a dazzling celebration ensues.
So too, must we as human beings, struggle against everything that would keep us from blooming, so that we may reach our potential and display to the world our own accomplishment of intelligence, talent, and virtue. The difference for us is that we can have a long life of blooming, and human blooming can occur under almost any circumstance. Sometimes, nobility is most pronounced under cruel circumstances. I think of my precious Naomi, when she was in pain and slowly dying. It drove me crazy with distress too watch, and although it was not my custom, sometimes I would leave her for a few moments and smoke a cigarette to relax and distract myself. I prayed all the time for her healing, but conditions worsened. Anyway, once, when I returned to Naomi’s side, she knew I had gone out to smoke, and she gently chided me, saying, “Dad, if you are anxious, just pray. We are stronger when we are happy.” In moments like those, I knew Naomi was so much more than her withering body . . . she was blooming like the fairest rose and nothing would fade its magnificent splendor.