It was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning as I sat reading my newspaper (just goes to show you what era this took place in). As I perused the entertainment section, I saw an announcement for the Anaheim House of Blues. The famous blues singer-guitarist, John Lee Hooker was in concert that very night. I asked my young son who was a huge blues fan if he wanted to go to the show. He had become an avid blues, and rock ‘n roll fan after I had jokingly, told him that “punk sucked.”
We arrived at the House of Blues several hours early. It was at Downtown Disney so I wanted to get there in plenty of time so that we could get a good spot to watch the show. This was a fairly new venue in the area and I fully expected to find hundreds of blues fans waiting in line.
As we approached the concert hall, we saw there was only one other fan in line. Being the outgoing individual that I am, I struck up a conversation with the young man and found out he was an artist from the great state of Connecticut. As a photographer, musician and overall fan of the arts, I was intrigued to ask him, “What kind of art do you do?”
He told me that he was a sculptor and that he was working on series of sculptures of the top living blues artists. Well, my fascination grew and went into wonderment when he asked if I wanted to see his current project of John Lee Hooker. Naturally I said, “Heck yeah!”
He dug into his satchel and pulled out an item that was preciously bubble wrapped for protection. He systematically unveiled his clay art revealing a magnificent representation of the great blues man. I marveled at the intricacies of the clay figure, the realism, and the movements he had captured in this unfinished piece of clay. I asked why he carried it with him. His reply was that “I only work on them while they are performing and that’s why I’m here tonight.”
Sure enough, as the crowd slowly entered the venue, I saw that my new friend had worked his way up to the front of the stage. During the opening act, he kicked back and enjoyed the music. But when John Lee Hooker came on stage the transformation began. The artist, unrolled his bubble wrapped clay and began to work on his masterpiece. I was as mesmerized by his working, as I was with the music of the great musician. Two artists performing together with totally unique instruments, with the same end in mind. The creation of special works of art in sight and sound.
Now, in the words of the late great —-Paul Harvey, “Here’s the rest of the story.”
Flashback a couple of hours to my initial meeting with the sculptor. As I stood there admiring the artist’s clay figure, I asked him what he intended to do with the clay. He told me that he was going to create a bronze casting of the series. BUT…”I only cast the clay after the performer has died, because that is the final piece of art.”
Wow! That is a life lesson that has stuck with me for over 15 years and I have used it extensively in my teaching and coaching.
The unfortunate part of this story is that I lost the phone number and address of this fine young artist and so I have not been able to stay connected. So if anyone knows this wonderful man, I would love to make contact.
So here’s the lesson. Each of us is just like that piece of clay. We are given life by The Great Sculptor, with potential not yet realized and throughout our lifetime we are sculpted and shaped by life into whoever we are becoming. We have successes, and we stumble and fall. Each time either adding or subtracting some clay. And it is in this process of being pushed and shaped that we finally reach a point where it is time to cast the final image.
So, the question, in the paraphrased words of Paul Harvey…”What’s the rest of your story?” How do you want your bronze statue to be perceived? I know you want it to be viewed as a masterpiece not a paper weight, right? So what do you need to change? Who or what do you need to eliminate from your life? Who do you need to intentionally become?