My old friend.
I see dead people.
In the upper Midwest if you don't have snow it just doesn't feel like Christmas - in Minneapolis we've had very little snow, and that can be depressing for some. This morning there were flurries, so a little spark of joy was felt in my Scrooge'd-up heart. I'm not really a Scrooge, am I? Who wants to be a Scrooge - unless you can get to see ghosts ...
The other day, I discovered a quaint little shop in the neighborhood and asked them if they'd be neighborly and accept some of my piled up artwork to sell in the shop. I mentioned I wasn't interested in making a profit - I just didn't want my work to rot away ...
The owner was delighted, asked if I could bring in the paintings right away, and so I returned home, packed up a couple dozen items and returned. I presented them, and she was thrilled with the work. As I was leaving, she immediately began to set out the little gems all around her shop. I walked by late that night and spotted a few pieces hanging on the wall, "They mixed well, I thought ..."
The next day I came to photo some of the work I had not yet catalogued. I looked at the pieces and noted the pricing was barely a third of what I have sold items for in the past - even privately, that is outside gallery representation and retail markup. As I looked more closely at my 'collection' with daylights fresh eyes, it seemed to be broken up - the individual pieces disappeared and no longer related to the 'continuum' I imagined they had, or what I felt made them a collection. I suddenly felt ... anxiety.
I discussed my situation with a friend, only to be scolded. "You're always like this. You are too precipitous. You jump into things without thinking them through." The worst was, "This is why you are not a successful artist." I begged him not to torture me with what I already knew. I already knew that I sell myself short ... always have ... and I live in a dream world of rabbits and hermits and sprites and lights and in that world every little brush stroke means something. Every little highlight becomes a golden thread in the strange tapestry which cloaks a naked, ignorant, little homeless kid - a ghost of Christmas past.
Interestingly, my critical friend told me I was seeing what my 'stuff' (I know! 'stuff' - he's seen Devil Wears Prada - he should know better!) will be worth after I'm dead. It will end up in an antique shop or junk shop, at bargain prices, to be sold just for the frames or to recycle a used canvas. He said he was simply being the ghost of Christmas future, and telling me the truth. I was afraid of that - which may help explain why I'm this eccentric guy painting crazy stuff for imaginary galleries and museums to exhibit after I'm dead.
The shop owner is so nice and so kind - she's the one doing me a favor.**
I guess I have to let go of my ego, my possessiveness, and go out and buy a Christmas goose for the Cratchit's before Timmy dies.
What do you want on your tombstone?
**(And at the end of the day - today - the prices ended up to be just right! It's a Christmas miracle!)