MORE THAN A PICASSO
I was 18 years old -- determined it was time to spread my wings, to
set out on my own, to get my own place.
So, this particular art show was more fun than most. I looked around
through my most critical eye for just the right piece to put in the new
apartment I was going to rent.
Many of the pieces I saw were beautiful, but far too expensive for
someone with more dreams than money. However, one picture caught my eye.
It was a bright yellow sun in a faded red frame -- fairly abstract, more
cartoon than art. A face was painted on the sun... blue eyes, big red
mouth, turned upwards in a smile. It was happy, and looking at it made me
A name was scrawled in the bottom left corner. Billy Williams.
Stepping back a little to study it further, I told myself I'd never
spend money on a painting like that, because after all, I could paint one
just like it if I really wanted one. There didn't seem to be a lot of
artistic talent, and in fact, it looked like a child had done it. If a
child could do something that caught my attention, I could do the same
thing, only better!
Yeah. That's what I'd do. I'd paint my own sun picture!
As I began to move away from the booth, something caught my ear. Was
someone talking to me? I didn't see anyone.
I stopped and looked at the picture again. This time, I saw a fellow
in a wheelchair trying to get my attention.
"Like it?" I thought I heard him ask.
It was hard for me to hear him. The tent was crowded and very loud.
I moved closer to him.
"Do I like it? Yes, I really do, but..."
He started talking again, but it was hard for me to understand him.
He talked very softly and slowly, drawing his words out to the point where
my mind had a hard time following them.
"I liiiiike to paaaaaint," he said.
"Really?" I asked, noticing for the first time that there were many
other paintings in his booth.
"I like your paintings very much." I continued. "How do you come up
with so many things to paint?"
"It's eeeeasy." he replied. "Aaaanyone can dooooo it. All youuu have
to dooooo is get an ideeeeea in your heeeead, deciiiiide what you waaant to
do, and dooooo it."
He then shared with me how he had painted the sun picture. The entire
conversation took about 15 minutes. Fifteen painful minutes. As he
struggled to get the words out and I struggled to understand them, I
learned a lesson I have never forgotten.
"How much for this painting?" I asked.
"Fiiiiive dollaaaaars," was the reply.
I gave him the $5, put my prize under my arm, and left.
It had taken Billy Williams 15 painful minutes to teach me a lesson
I've kept close to my heart for the following 28 years. This
awkward-looking young man, hands knarled, legs twisted, tongue thick, had
broken the code on a part of life I hadn't even known existed.
The man who made one of the greatest impacts on my life is someone
whom will never know it.
I've never seen him again.
He would never be able to overcome his physical challenges, but he had
learned to deal with them. He had learned that doing what he wanted to do
was simply a matter of getting an idea, deciding what he wanted the outcome
to look like, and making it happen.
He said anyone could do it. He was right.
-- Stephanie Sparkman