November 08- The Last Leaf
“All artists are self-sacrificing human beings….only in the throes of death is the spark of eternal life ignited.” – Friedrich Von Schlegel
On a crisp autumn day in Richmond last fall, I found myself in a long line at the post office. The post office is my “morning commute” , my “traffic jam” – an endless source of frustration, as long waits are not my favorite way of spending time. Just that morning I had prepared myself for the postal experience and promised that I would find a way to reach into myself and be patient and quiet and centered and calm- no matter what happened.
The man ahead of me looked like a writer or an artist, a bit disheveled with big thick glasses, tall and gaunt. As we waited he mentioned the leaves on the tree outside the post office window. The shifting sunlight of a November day highlighted the stunning display of red, yellow and orange. As he was called to the window by the clerk, he turned to me and said, “Have you ever read O. Henry’s The Last Leaf?” I had not and he said, “You really should.” and proceeded with his postal business.
I came home and found The Last Leaf on the internet. The story cut straight to my heart as I recognized the cast of characters as people from my own business circle: the misunderstood, and often forgotten, established older artist; the young aspiring artist who has lost the will to go on; the caring and concerned significant other who, despite encouragments, entrities and bowls of soup, cannot cure the spirit of the afflicted. And in the end, how any hope or encouragement, even a false one wrapped in ultimate self-sacrifce, can mean the difference between life and death.
Read The Last Leaf today. It’ll only take 10 minutes. We all have gifts to give; a kind word, an unexpected sweet deed, a note of encouragement or caring. Find someone today and bestow upon them a gift of spirit.