I guess it won’t surprise you know that I’ve always believed in magic.
I look for those small moments of synchronicity that let me know I’m not alone. I don’t know Who or What it is that walks beside me, but by dropping that penny in my path, I’ve felt that everything is going to be okay. By nudging me to catch the sight of a falling star, I’ve been given an opportunity to make a wish. And the funny thing is, the more I look for magic, the more I find.
But when I worked in the art business, I stopped believing in magic. I was busy. It was a high-pressure job and I was responsible for a studio full of employees, and their families. If I didn’t sell art, my employees didn’t eat. And man cannot live on four-leaf clovers alone. The art business is really, really hard. If you think it’s difficult selling your work, try selling the work of 100 artists. Or maintaining relationships with thousands of clients. I couldn’t afford to have lean times; I had to make quotas right through recessions, art market fluctuations, good times and bad. There was no room for magic.
I had to rely on myself; to grit my teeth, put my head down and keep going, drawing on will power and grim determination. But when you rely only on yourself, you sometimes start to give yourself away.
Piece by piece, little by little, you can’t believe that anything good will happen unless you make it happen. You work into the night because everything hinges on you. You sacrifice your sleep, your relationships, and your health. You smile at the client who just chased you around the gallery trying to steal a cheeky kiss, because you need to close that sale. You hire an assistant to drive back and forth to the Starbucks 8-miles away when a visiting big shot artist demands a steady supply of fresh hot coffee from THAT Starbucks, even though there’s one right next door. Back and forth, to and fro, your poor assistant drives past 15 other Starbucks all day long, for six weeks! But your job is to keep that artist happy.
You stay professional when some of those you deal with are outrageous, offensive and even cruel, because you’ve given everyone else your power, believing that their cooperation is more important that your feelings. You hide your light for the sake of others.
The work held meaning for me because I believed in the art we were creating in our studios. And by placing it in major institutions and collections, I knew that it would have a life beyond me and my discomfort. That felt important enough to make sacrifices for. But what I learned was that when you measure success by numbers, your success is in the hands of other people. And sometimes you have to give away pieces of yourself to those people.
It was when I returned to living the magical life, things got a lot easier. It’s not just about fairy dust and angels, you know. It’s about finding a new way to measure success. It’s about meaning. It’s about faith.
For example, when I quit the art business and moved to the middle of nowhere in France by myself, I found that two dear long-lost friends had also moved to the same tiny village at the same time. And suddenly, I wasn’t alone any more. Coincidence? Yeah, right.
It was when I started to work with other artists, teaching The Working Artist and sharing my secrets for selling art that the magic really started to escalate.
When I ran a crowd-funding campaign to bring the program online, artists from around the world supported me — even though we’d never met. Then I needed someone to film and edit The Working Artist. And just like that, an old friend who happened to be a filmmaker re-appeared in my life and offered to do it – for free. When I needed someone to put my program online and create a learning platform that would speak the way artists learn, voila! Someone from a small island in the middle of nowhere offered me a platform he’d created for specifically for creative learners. And it looked exactly like the one I had in my head.
Each time I jump, the universe catches me.
When I trudged through life working, trying to make a quota, I suffered endless physical maladies. The world is heavy when you carry it on your shoulders. But now that I dance with The Invisible again, my life is richer. My faith is stronger. And grace happens.
So go ahead and make a wish. The funny thing about wishes is, it’s impossible to wish for something you don’t truly desire. Making wishes insures that you always follow your heart. And when you follow your heart, the world opens up for you.
Just like magic.