I once read somewhere that Van Gogh used to swallow yellow paint because he thought it would bring him happiness. He thought that swallowing something the color of the bright, shining sun would him feel brighter, his disposition shining.
But it poisoned him, the toxins flowing through his blood. But did it actually make him happy, was it worth it? I like to think it did because why do it again and again if there is no reward, nothing positive to hold on to?
People say he was crazy, that it was a dumb idea. That the yellow paint was bad for him, destroying him from the inside, nothing else. That there was no way happiness could come from something so toxic.
A few months ago, my brother broke up with his girlfriend of so many years that we all lost count. He was a shell, a memory of himself. That night he drank, booze coating his throat with its burn. And his smile became a little brighter for a while, he smiled and laughed and danced as if he had no care in the world. The next morning, he told me he felt like death.
My roommate came to me last week, crying about how she suspects that her boyfriend is having an affair with his ex. Tears were streaming down her face and the pain in her eyes was unbearable; I had to look away. But when I came out of my room yesterday, I saw them cuddling on the couch, her face full of love for the man holding her, her laughter light and easy. I rarely see her laugh like that; so carefree and happy.
I keep sleeping with a guy who won’t respond to my messages more than half the time. The silence pierces my heart every time and it makes me curse his name and promise my friends that this is it, I am done. But when he ends up in my bed just days later, when his fingers trace my skin feather light and it feels like every touch is lighting me on fire, I know I’ll do it all over again.
So you see, I think Van Gogh was on to something. Sometimes the things that are most toxic can make us feel our brightest, give us the happiness everyone craves. We all have our yellow paint.