A few months ago, I had to go to an art exhibit for something that was work related. Basically, this senior citizens activity center was holding a reception for the artist, a woman who was 80+ years old. I had to talk to the artist and she wasn’t in a talkative mood and gave me one word answers – which is the last thing I need for my line of work – so I politely told her that I’d give her a minute to collect her thoughts and then I’d get back to her.
She had about a dozen paintings and several people stood around, marveling at each piece. There was a man, who about the same age as the artist, who kept coming up to her and asking questions that I couldn’t hear. She brushed him off and he eventually came up to me and asked why I was there. When I explained that it was to see this artist, he begged me to come see a portfolio of his work. I agreed and he literally took my by the hand to his table.
I had no choice but to sit still as the man sifted through page after page of his artwork. He had a bunch of pieces he built with his hands and set up in his garden. I remember being impressed, but I can’t remember further details of his work. Each time he flipped a page, he’d say “I completed this when I was 54,” “I did this one when I was 62,” or “It took me 20 years to do this one and I was 78 by the time I finished.”
When we reached the end of his portfolio, I thanked him for his time and prepared to get back to the original artist. But the old man stood and grabbed my wrist, so I had no choice but to hear what his next words. “I say all this to you for a reason,” he said. “No matter what you do, don’t ever, EVER, ever give up.”
Excellent advice coming from a stranger. And words I definitely needed to hear. I nearly forgot about that moment until earlier today. An art teacher at the senior center called me to discuss another upcoming event. Unfortuantely, I won’t be able to attend. I hope that whoever gets to go meets this guy and gets hit with this same advice.