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There was once a man who was gifted with amazing artistry. He could paint just about anything. If he painted a morning scene of hills in Kentucky, it could make you want to live there. If he painted a door on a wall, you would try to walk through it. His ocean scenes could make you smell the salty air. The guy was just that good.
Some years into adulthood, he began to feel pain in his wrists and hands while he worked. He was still able to paint, but he did less of it due to his works requiring more and more time. He wasn’t very concerned about how his pain limited his work. He was still getting by comfortably.
As years wore on, his affliction grew more intense with more frequent pains that lasted longer and longer than years before. With each passing year, he was able to do less and less work. He felt secure in that he was wise to save his profits over the years. He could stop painting altogether and still live quite well.
There was a day when he finally decided to see a doctor about his hands. The doctor explained how years of holding paint brushes and the repetitive brush strokes had irritated the nerve tunnel through his wrist. The doctor suggested surgery and expounded on the success rate of this common procedure.
The painter asked, “What is involved?”
The doctor answered, “We will make incisions into your wrists and up to the palms. We need to open it up to see how much damage has been done. Regardless, I’m certain we can bring you remarkable improvement.”
The painter inquired further, “Will it hurt?”
The doctor was honest. “Recovery will be somewhat painful. It’s a very tender area. You will need to keep your hands out of harm’s way until they heal enough to be worked again.”
The painter thought for a moment, then asked with apprehension, “What is this going to cost me?”
The doctor smiled. He knew who the painter was. He knew what he was capable of. He had been a fan for a long time. He answered, “I’ll tell you what… I’ll do it for a trade. I’ll fix your hands if you will paint a mural on a wall in my mansion.”
The painter felt this was a certain bargain in which he was the major benefactor of. He thought for a while, and then informed the doctor, “I’ll think about it.”
The painter left the perplexed doctor and returned home where he pondered the surgery. He thought about the incision and wondered if he could trust this doctor enough to cut him open. “There are a lot of nerves there. What if he made a mistake?”
He then thought about the procedure. “What if it didn’t work? What if it’s something else? What if I lose the use of my hands completely? What if I get an infection? This could actually kill me!”
Then he thought about recovery. “That will certainly be uncomfortable; downright painful in fact. How will I eat or drink? How will I do anything?”
The painter decided after a few days that the risks were not worth taking. He was comfortable enough with things the way they were, and spent the next few years doing what he loved, but much less of it than ever before. Eventually, he stopped painting altogether. He used his lifelong proceeds to travel, dine in exclusive settings, entertain friends, and live the good life.
He died at the age of 77. His funeral was quite large. An accumulation of friends over the years came to pay their respects. And when it came time to say a few words about the deceased, there was no shortage of stories about the painter. One by one, people came up and told grand tales about the fun they had with him. They spoke of his financial savvy and taste for only the best wine. They said many things, but absent was a word about his painting.
After a few people had their say, an inconspicuous old gentleman came to the stand and began to speak.
“About a year ago, the painter called on me. As we spoke, he told me about his life. He knew he was dying, and it gave him reason to look back on things. He had some regrets, and he asked me to speak to you all when he had finally passed away. I’m a doctor from the painter’s home town. I knew everything about this man before he asked to see me one day many years ago. I studied his work, and I appreciated his talent. As we are all vulnerable to this world, so was he. He developed a painful condition that limited his ability to do what he was gifted to do. I had been hoping he would come to see me one day. Most often, people don’t see me until they are in a lot of pain. Still, I’ll see anyone who knocks on my door. In fact, it was my pleasure to see him when he asked. I was able to diagnose his pain, and I laid out before him the procedures that would restore him. The only thing I asked for in return was a small portion of what came natural to him. I knew that if he were healthy, his talents would bless people over and over again. Unfortunately, he decided that opening up to the pain was too much. He felt that putting his trust in me was too big of a risk. He feared the process of healing and the constant awareness he would be required to live with. He decided that his life was comfortable enough to remain disabled. He spent the rest of his days doing many other things to fill the void where his passion once dwelled. Those things led him to people, places, and things that make for good stories, but they could never paint his picture like a brush in his hand would have. If he would have only trusted me, I could have healed him. There would have been pain. There would have been fear. It would have required some faith. But I could have done it if only he was willing. It frustrates me. He was a painter, but he didn’t paint a thing for the last 30 years of his life. His limitations rendered his efforts to pathetic simplicity. Overall, thousands of people were not able to appreciate his work because he was comfortable. This, the painter asked me to say to you.”
The doctor began to depart, but hesitated for a moment, and then addressed the crowd.
“I would like to be your doctor too. My practice never closes and I do not discriminate. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Cast of Characters:
Painting talent..............Our gifts
© 2008 Nick Gerace