I've just returned from the funeral of my dear friend Evan. Saying good-bye has got to be one of the most difficult challenges we face in life, especially when we look back and see how much that person has influenced us.
I've worked in and around the business of contemporary art throughout my career. I sold the work of artists I represented to museums and galleries and collections throughout the world. My job felt "important" and everyone agreed that I was "successful."
But I wasn't really feeling it. And couldn't understand why. I just figured something was wrong with me.
Then one year for my birthday, my friend Evan sent me a gift-wrapped package. On the card he wrote that this was a photograph by a great artist, someone who hadn't yet been discovered, but needed to be. A talent that I should pay attention to.
Inside, I found a framed photograph that I had taken.
As artists, we seem to spend an awful lot of time listening to our critics, the people who tell us our work is crap, we'll never make it, we should get a "real" job. We categorically remember every slight, every discouraging prediction, every bad review, each failure.
But it's those people who support us, who nudge us toward our light, that we should really be paying attention to. It's their words we need to follow and hold tight.
Evan's gift served to point me away from the world's opinion and back toward my true self. I'm sure that you have a friend like this too.
Don't wait until you say good-bye to say thank you.