There we were, at the art opening of a friend of a friend: abstract oil and acrylic on canvas, plus some random photographs, at a bona fide art gallery in downtown Toronto.
(Please don’t ask me the name of the gallery. . . I was in university at the time, way too young to pay attention to such things. But I do remember that it was in Yorkville, down the street from the Cotton Ginny store where I bought my favorite overalls).
While I meandered around the space gawking at the canvases, my friend helped herself to the free wine and cheese. Then I saw it: bold, wide strokes of orange and fuschia, sprinkles of red and blue, a cross between Willem DeKooning and Jackson Pollock. I peered down at the tiny price tag: $275. A fortune for a grad student!
I decided to think on it for a while. I circulated the room again, stopping at the cheese station to pick at some olives and Asiago. I sipped wine from a plastic wine glass. Then I moseyed back toward the painting.
And there it was: a little red dot on the wall beside it. Already sold!!
I felt my heart sink. I’d waited too long. I missed my moment.
For years afterward, I regretted not buying that painting. Every time I gazed at the blank spot above the couch in my tiny living room, I imagined how it might have uplifted my spirits. I’d see similar paintings at friends’ houses or when flipping through magazines, and wish I’d acted on my instinct that night.
I became sure I would have found a way to come up with the extra money. It wasn’t all that much, after all–I could have used my teaching assistant income and eaten crackers and peanut butter for lunch or dinner to save a little extra. . . . it would have been worth it.
But it was too late. Now someone else was reaping the benefits because of my hesitation.
I learned my lesson. I decided that life was too short to save the good china. I told my friends and family what they meant to me.
No, I’m not perfect at it, and there are still times I don’t manage to seize the moment. But I’ve come a long way in that direction.
And one thing I know for sure: My biggest regrets in life are the things I didn’t do, never the ones I did (and even if they sometimes didn’t work out exactly as I’d hoped. It always feels better to have tried).
Because time is precious. And we only have one life.
So let me ask you, how long have you been thinking about writing a book?
How long have you been saving those scribbled notes for “one day”? For when you have more time, when you can organize your thoughts better, when you take a writing course. . . ?
Please, don’t hesitate so long that you miss your chance!
Whether you’re a seasoned writer or have no idea where to begin, you can write that book. All it takes is a clear idea and the determination to get it done.
I don’t want you to wake up one day and see what should have been YOUR book on the New York Times bestseller list. Simply because that author got started while you continued to contemplate what you could do “one day” with your ideas.
I have no doubt there’s a potential bestseller inside of you. Don’t know how to get to it? I can help. Let’s hop on a call and see where your ideas can go.
Oh–and what happened the next time I saw a painting that I loved? It was on display at the university student center and I couldn’t stop staring at it even though it cost more than I wanted to pay at the time. I bought it then and there (you can see a photo of it, above).
It hangs in our living room. I still love it, and I feel a sense of peace and happiness every single time I look at it.
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