Just yesterday while listening to an audio seminar by leading American productivity and managerial success expert Brian Tracy, I heard him share the story of a woman named Grandma Moses. The story was both inspiring and instructive, so I decided to do something ingenious- I googled up “Grandma Moses”. Interesting what turned up.
Grandma Moses was a typical 19th century American woman. Born in 1860, she lived for an impressive 101 years. She had 10 kids; 5 of whom died in infancy. Grandma Moses farmed most of her life but had to give it up as she got older and her arthritic condition worsened. But that’s where her ‘typicality’ ends.
Unknown to many people, Grandma Moses had always possessed a love for the arts- precisely painting. She had a passion for it, but somehow, never got around to fully harnessing her artistic prowess. However, with nothing much left to do in her late 70’s, she decided to pick up the painting brush- that’s when it started.
Her painting style was unique- called native art. Within a very short time, the septuagenarian was churning out incredibly beautiful works- without ever having ANY formal artistic training! She was e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y prolific, eventually generating over 1,600 paintings in the last 30 years of her life (that’s a CONSISTENT average of one painting per week for 30 years- starting at almost 80 years old!).
Soon, her works began commanding global attention and not too long after that, her exhibitions shattered attendance records. When she started, she exchanged her works for $2.00 or $3.00 for the larger ones- but not for long. As her popularity grew, and art collectors desired her works, prices shot up. Grandma Moses made more money in her last 30 years that she spent pursuing her passion than she did in the first 70 striving to live a comfortable life! In November 2006, her work, Sugaring Off became her highest selling work at $1.2 m-i-l-l-i-o-n!
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Impressive right? Let’s come back to today. It’s early November 2013, and I’m sitting in a bus, waiting for other passengers. Somehow, I broke my tradition of sticking on my earpiece as soon as I get on a bus- that turned out to be a good thing. A few minutes later, a voice arrested my attention. Someone was singing. Obviously a girl. But the voice…the voice…twas something else. I could tell that whoever it was was approaching from behind, who might this be?
“Buy recharge card, buy recharge card. Your handkerchief here”
She breezed past, oblivious of what she had done to my attention. A little further down the road and the lady by me suddenly decided she needed a handkerchief- guess who called back the singing hawker?
“Your recharge card”, she repeated, dangling a bundle of used airtime vouchers in front of me. I shook my head slightly and directed her attention to the lady while mine remained fixed on her. She was quite young, my guess is she’d be 20 max. Slightly dark, and yes, she was as beautiful as her voice.
“Were you the one singing when you passed just now?”, I started, asking the blindingly obvious.
“Yes”, she responded, after recovering from her slight shock at my question.
“Hmmm, hope you’re using that voice for God o, cos that voice…” I remarked.
She smiled softly and snaply remarked, “I dey sing, I dey do all of them together”
By then, handkerchief and naira notes had swapped places and she was ready to go on with her business. I wish I had a chance to sit with her and talk about that voice. Being someone involved a bit with music, I heard something in her vocal cords- I heard a star. A star on the streets of Iyana-Ipaja.
“Lord, help her to make the best use of that gift” I muttered under my breath as she ‘bounced’ off, her calls of “buy recharge card, buy recharge card” trailing.
Reflecting on this incident today, and after reading Grandma Moses’ story, I silently hope my ‘friend’ doesn’t need to wait till she’s 70 before the world is blessed by her amazing gift. You know, thinking about it, I wonder how many young people out there are actually Grandma Moses-in-the-making. I wonder how many are ignoring or suppressing their God-given passions. I imagine how many of us are sacrificing our true life’s mission on the on the altars of fear, excuses, or the need to survive.
I wonder how many of us are thinking “na this one (our gifting) I go take hammer?”
Hmmm… I’m thinking. And I’m concerned. Concerned about you. That someday, when your hair is grey and your youth is gone, you won’t look back and wonder “what if I had…?”
Dear young person, that gift, that ability, that ‘weird’ passion was wired into you by God for a reason. Don’t let it die. Don’t forfeit it for a paycheque. Don’t mortgage it for ‘acceptance’ or a desire to look ‘normal’. Run with it. Explore it. Take the risk. Move from potential to performance.
Don’t let your world wait till you’re 70+ before giving it your gift. Grandma Moses got a second chance to pursue her passion. I’m inspired that she did. But my bigger inspiration will come from you- when you start RIGHT NOW.
This is my challenge to you today, friend. Give your gift.
With all the love in my heart,
P.S: I’ve decided to feature some of Grandma Moses’ work. What do you think of these?
You’re up next.