Rob Levit | February 2014
Paul Gauguin and the Three Questions
As a graduate student at New England Conservatory in the early 1990’s, I was lucky enough to live within walking distance of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Of the myriad of masterworks there, one stood out as easily the most amazing and profound: Gauguin’s massive work depicting life and the human condition in all its divergent and amazing forms. The title of the painting and the amazing scenes of life it depicts ask us to reflect deeply – “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”
As educators shaping the futures of children, we need to be in a continuous loop of reflection to keep us focused on what is most essential and profound in our work. This continuous loop takes place on a daily level, a weekly level, a monthly level, a yearly level and through the course of career and life changes.
Because our lives are so complex and challenging, it is a worthy question to ask “Where can I make the most profound and needed difference using my skills and talents?” Gauguin’s painting asks us to look deeply at our past, present and future not so much to answer these questions but to search deeply within ourselves.
These questions are individual, family and community questions that lead us into the deeper places of life. Stare deeply into the painting, imagine the scenes and what they depict, take out your journal and reflect.