One of the gifts Wyatt's given me is that I've finally accepted that I have an uncanny ability to recognize gems in the rough no matter what disguise they come in. And I am a magnet for creatives that are on cusp of a breakthrough.
Someone else might perceive a single mom struggling to make ends meet, or a stranded musician down on his luck standing in front of them.
I'm not deceived by the cover of matchbooks, though.
Mostly though, these artists aren't being looked down upon. They're invisible to everyone else flocking to see the sold-out Monet exhibit. Who'd recognize the next living breathing Picasso or Michelangelo in our midst?
What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
- Joan Osborne, from lyrics to "What if God Was One of Us"
I decided to ask a friend whose net worth was many times over mine for money mindset advice recently because I realized that in order to step up to the next level and truly be of service, I need to get over any money hangups I have.
“I don't seem to have trouble being an agent/middleperson for large amounts of money, for instance I can sell other people's high-end artwork, other people's six-figure enterprise software, etc. I'm great at sales, or as a agent...for EVERYONE ELSE. But when it's 'mine', then I'm altogether demure (read: scared!) and give it away for peanuts.”
My friend writes:
"So less of a money coaching question than a career coaching question but…why fight this? Why not try and set yourself up as an agent of some sort?
...I can imagine you being “wholeheartedly engaged and committed to” selling incredible art in a gallery."
Friend nailed it. And I saw a huge part of my past reluctance to be an agent for artists is that I do not want to rep everyone.
I believe there are two kind of artists (including designers, creators, entrepreneurs) in the world: those that act from shared interests, and those that will.
I want to work with 'We' artists. Their head and heart are already in the right place going in. Catapulting 'We' artists ripples out my investment in them so much further: my anonymous friend helps me, I help Wyatt, and Wyatt helps others as he's done in the past (his nonprofit offered fundraising services for other nonprofits through concerts and performances; he also helped at-risk youth at a computer lab), and so on. Well, it's even more expansive in effects as it's never ever a one-way-street.
I knew Wyatt was the real deal when he texted me the day after we first met: would u like to coffee call. I dial his number:
"Wyatt, I can't. I live too far away and I don't have enough money for coffee right now. "
"No worries. I'll pay for the coffee. You've been the one bright spot in my life in a long while. You don't treat me like a zoo animal."
"That's sweet of you. Honestly I, uhhh, don't have enough for bus fare to get there."
That was last Friday. I get on a bus yesterday to Palo Alto. "Ride's free today," the bus driver notions to me with his bowed head pointing to the broken meter's black overcoat.
“To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause within our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace.” -Terry Tempest Williams (when I was living in Utah, I adored her writing & Ellen Meloy & Edward Abbey & Mary Austin)
"Just now as I was expecting you," Wyatt is speaking as he alights from the curb across from the movie-house-transformed-to-Borders and he collects his messenger bag and puts away the guitar, "you won't believe the blessing I just had. It's going to get me to San Diego. I'm singing my new song, and a guy stops asking if I'm a Stanford student...he ends up dropping me a fifty."
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
One day when I'm not so deeply touched to the point of tears, I'll share more about last night. It brought to mind one of my favorite blog posts that my good friend David's written over at his Exquisite Safari's blog.
And so it should go without saying I'll be rep'ing artists that move from the very same inner motivation as the traveller in this parable. Yes, some of them will be on the verge of awakening, some of them practically translucent. Mostly they'll be glowing inside, - maybe not quite yet radiating palpably - kindling for those ironic points of light, those affirming flames.
There are many variations on the story of stone soup, but they all involve a traveler coming into a town. The inhabitants try to discourage the traveler from staying, fearing he wants them to give him food. They tell him in no uncertain terms that there's no food anywhere to be found. The traveler explains that he doesn't need any food and that, in fact, he was planning to make a soup to share with all of them. The villagers watch suspiciously as he builds a fire and fills a cauldron with water.
With great ceremony, he pulls a stone from a bag, dropping the stone into the pot of water. He sniffs the brew extravagantly and exclaims how delicious stone soup is. As the villagers begin to show interest, he mentions how good the soup would be with just a little cabbage in it. A villager brings out a cabbage to share. This episode repeats itself until the soup has cabbage, carrots, onions, and beets-indeed, a substantial soup that feeds everyone in the village.
This story addresses the human tendency to hoard in times of deprivation. When resources are scarce, we pull back and put all of our energy into self-preservation. We isolate ourselves and shut out others. As the story of stone soup reveals, in doing so, we often deprive ourselves and everyone else of a feast.
This metaphor plays out beyond the realm of food. We hoard ideas, love, and energy, thinking we will be richer if we keep to them to ourselves, when in truth we make the world, and ourselves, poorer whenever we greedily stockpile our reserves. The traveler was able to see that the villagers were holding back, and he had the genius to draw them out and inspire them to give, thus creating a spread that none of them could have created alone.
Are you like one of the villagers, holding back? If you come forward and share your gifts, you will inspire others to do the same. The reward is a banquet that can nourish many. - by David Chamberlain, "The Wisdom Of Sharing Stone Soup", Exquisite Safaris
images Flickr photo by student of theology