Wistful Thinking

Norman Rockwell was born in 1894 and knew he wanted to be an artist.  He never completed high school and opted instead to study at an art school.

He received his first commission for his art at the age of 18.  His last commissioned artwork was when he was 82.  He died 2 years later.

Rockwell is best known for his Saturday Evening Post covers which chronicled American life.  He produced 322 covers over a period of 47 years.  These covers were a reminder of what was important to America and its citizens.  They were realistic portrayals of our society and evoked wistful thoughts about our society.  See https://www.nrm.org/2009/10/norman-rockwells-323-saturday-evening-post-covers/ for a few of the covers.

During World War II, Rockwell painted illustrations of Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (e.g. speech, worship, want, and fear (https://www.nrm.org/2012/10/collections-four-freedoms/).  Some of his paintings were the best representation of the troubles our society faced.  Rockwell was not afraid of challenging us to become better.  Perhaps the best illustration of this is the Problem We All Live With (http://www.nrm.org/thinglink/text/ProblemLiveWith.html) which depicts a young African American child being escorted to school by U.S. Marshalls.

The paintings of Norman Rockwell evoke wistful thinking – helping us imagine what we wish things could be.  Wistful thinking is built upon our beliefs and values.  Often wistful thinking brings to mind our fondest memories.

Wistful thinking is also the origin of our best ideas.  Those who practice wistful thinking can separate practical realities for a while and think of what might be.  The imagination of what might be eventually becomes a tangible new concept.

Wistful thinking can also be calming, especially when we are troubled.  Rockwell’s paintings are one source of wistful thinking, but there are other sources such as music, movies, books, sermons, photo albums, and spiritual readings. Everyone needs a trigger for taking themselves into a wistful thinking state.

Wistful thinking is also a singular activity rather than something you do with others. Often wistful thinking is something done before going to sleep.  The thoughts you have while going to sleep are often crystalized by the time you wake up.

As you read this message, you may want to click on the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jop8t6Xhpv4 and practice wistful thinking as you listen to the song, Shenandoah.  Rivers are a lot like humans.  They respond to events often beyond their control.  Storms can cause them to rise and possibly go beyond their banks.  For a river to stay under control, it needs help.  In some cases, this may mean the removal of rocks on the riverbed that cause turbulence.  It could mean the use of reinforcing support when the river may otherwise be overwhelmed.  We are like the river.  (This rendition of the song is from the album, “Reflections on Life,” by recording artists Greg Short, Carla Short, and Andy Pintus.  Greg & Carla are husband & wife performers (Carla is also my assistant), and Andy is their close friend.)

We need to remove the rocks in our life that cause turbulence.  We need to find those who care enough about us to provide reinforcement when we are about to be overcome.

* * *

“Think left and
think right and
think low and
think high.”

“Oh, the thinks
you can think
up if only you

-Dr. Seuss

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