This magnificent pastel was drawn on a sidewalk in Florence, Italy. The artist spent two days creating this work for anyone who walked by to admire and enjoy. His only expectation was for people to give a donation to show their appreciation. He invested hours and hours working diligently to create this amazing work.
The percentage of people who gave money was pretty small, probably a little less than ten percent. That did not seem to dissuade the artist, he kept working and creating and never stopped to count his payment. He worked passionately and used his talents and gift to give back to Florence. He would never be paid or appreciated for his efforts, not to the same level that he invested in time and talent.
Experiencing this work made me think. I wondered if I had the guts and wherewithall to do the same, to give away my gifts without expectations. Could I spend the time and energy he did without getting annoyed or discouraged? Was I willing to stick it out not knowing if I would ever be appreciated, praised, or paid for my personal investment? Would I do it for the right people, the right cause, the right reasons? Would I do it if someone I loved asked? Or for the inspiration of others. or for my own vanity? Would I then let my work wash away with the next rain without regret or anger?
I realized that I was not sure that I would answer yes to any of those questions, not like the artist in Florence. I had to face my own expectations, my own need for reward and recognition, and my inability to do what this artist was doing. I was not in a place where I could give without expectations, and now I have seen and experienced what it looks like. Now I am aware of what it takes and can strive to be this willing to give.
Sometimes it is only by the actions of others that we are able to learn more about ourselves. We learn what we are and are not willing to do. It is through this self awareness that we are able to become better versions of ourselves. It takes time and effort, changing and learning to become our true selves. It is by example that we learn what we are capable of doing. I do not plan to become street artist anytime soon, yet I did learn and admire this artist’s ability to give without expectations simply because he could.