Home > Art, Life, Spirituality/Religion, That's Total BS! > Flushing Integrity

Flushing Integrity

me_bsPut on your helmets, people…. It’s gonna be a rough ride!

Picture this: Someone contacts you, having become aware of your work. Impressed, they would like to hire you to do a job. You put together a presentation, travel a considerable distance, provide a quote that you believe accurately reflects the time, energy, and experience that will be involved in the effort and the client says, “Let’s do it!”

You are happy that, after a period away from this work, the investment you’ve made in learning the technology that is necessary to be successful in this day and age is beginning to show some results. In anticipation of beginning this job, you go out and further invest in the clothing, materials, even childcare, that will allow you to get started.

Imagine, then, the night before you are to show up for work, the employer calls and says, “Someone just walked in, sight unseen, and offered to do the same job for half the price. Are you willing to do the job for that? I’d still rather have you do it but not if I can get someone else to do it for less.”

So what do you do? Nothing has been signed and only a smile and a handshake have sealed the deal.

In good faith I agree to the terms. Who am I to complain in an economy that is leaving people homeless? I’m  lucky to have the opportunity, I rationalize to myself.

The next morning, I walk into the building and see a toilet sitting in the middle of the entryway. Bad sign. No plumbing. Brown paper on the windows attempts to shade the heat of the Florida sun to little effect. No electricity means fumes will not be circulating. I set up anyway.

I stare at the wall and all I can see is betrayal. I roll gray, lifeless, stinky primer onto the wall. I climb to a precarious height to cover up mistakes left by a careless contractor. I have no vision for this one. It looks dead to me.

I start thinking about that toilet. I once remodeled a bathroom using a book of instructions and all the right tools and fixtures. Someone with more experience might have done a better job but nothing leaked and the room looked much better than it had before. It hadn’t taken much to become proficient at that skill.

Now, here I am about to create a 150 sq.ft. work of art that will be seen by thousands and hopefully add incentive for them to return again and again to enjoy the ambience, yet I have agreed to be paid less to do so than the young fellow listening to head banging rap music and yelling over to his contractor buddy that he has “20 beers in the fridge so the game’s at my house tonight!” for installing a sink, toilet, and mirror for the comfort of customers as required by law for such an establishment. My contribution has no such requirement.

I did not become an artist to make money. I did it because I needed to share my imagination and soul with others. Deep inside, exchanging those for money feels dirty to me, yet it is how our society has agreed to acknowledge value. In asking for an amount of money that reflected my efforts in a commercial setting, a money-making establishment, my intent had less to do with receiving compensation for myself than with attempting to assign a fair monetary value to something whose worth cannot easily be measured in dollars. I did it to assign value to the work of all artists who are willing to invest their time and souls in such a way.

truckAs I packed up my equipment this morning and declared the birth of this project aborted, I realized that the only difference between throwing money down the toilet that would soon be in the building’s bathroom and the one that would have been my project is the fact that the literal one could actually flush…at least until it backed up from choking on all that money…

I would have signed a guarantee that the only overflowing mine would ever do would be with the light of my soul….

  1. November 3, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I’m so sorry. It’s hard to find inspiration through the muck of business. Maybe you should look at it in a different way. It’s a business and a lot of people will see it, so it’s really advertising for future work. And I’d suggest an iPod for future work sessions so your creativity won’t be drowned out by loud mouthed, beer guzzling jock wanna-bes.

  2. November 3, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Wow, Ellen. I’m sorry that this person saw fit to treat you this way and could not see beauty that is your soul that you flow into your work. It’s why I write and do what I do. The income is important because I too have to pay my bills. What is equally important however is my heart and how it feels to be a part of something where there is no exchange of energy or where it is one sided. Where what I do is not fully valued for ALL that I bring.

    It’s too bad for them that your work will not grace the space. I know it would have made the place a space people wanted to come back to, like a warm fireplace on a cool night. A place to come and commune. Good for you for following your heart and going where what you do is valued for all that you bring.

    I’ve learned this tool at a deeper level of late from Susan Ponder and it has to do with going into my heart and calling on my sacred consciousness, Christ consciousness, Goddess consciousness, Buddha, God, whatever you call it and saying the ______ consciousness in me forgives you for any wrongs I have felt. The forgiveness is not about excusing behavior. It’s about letting go, releasing the event from your energy so that there are no blocks in your energy field. After you do this for you then you call on that persons _______ consciousness and say that he/she forgives you for all that has taken place. It might seem like there is nothing that either of you would be forgiving about, but doing this really sets the energy free for something even better to come along. You do not even have to talk to this person to call on their higher consciousness for forgiveness/releasing any energetic bonds. Simply saying it yourself effects the release. You do it for you and you do it for them. Amazing things happen as a result as you clear the energy from one another for the best and highest good. The results might happen the same day or in a week. A new job in a sacred setting that will touch and heal the hearts of thousands. You already have all the tools because you bought them for this other job. Perhaps it was a dry run to show you what you don’t desire and exactly what you do desire. You deserve it!

    Just a suggestion.

    Thanks for all of the beautiful work that you do.



  3. Ted E. Kinson
    November 3, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    You followed your heart, which is what you have done in most all situations, or so I’ve read. If your heart wasn’t into this than you did the right thing. But you also know this already. Before you left though, you could have had some real fun with this, seeing that it was a bathroom and all. You wouldn’t have gotten paid for it, and you would have lost money in materials, but it would have made you laugh, and that is good for the heart too. Better projects are soon to come.

  4. November 5, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    oh, my. If I wasn’t so wrapped up in your humor and writing, I would be shaking my head at the nature of the business world– especially when it comes to art. I just finished a book called “Shop Class as Soul Craft” that noted we no longer have skilled laborers that take pride in their work, and thereby, in many ways, bring us all down a notch. Part of that comes, however, with the nature of a contractor versus the nature of an artist. A contractor can get away with having no emotional ties to a project: a toilet is a toilet is a toilet. But an artist:: it has to be different, because by bringing art from the inside out is asking us to leave bits of ourselves behind. Being choosey about where those pieces exist, I think, is simply a necessity in protecting the soul. Hugs to you on this one Ellen!

  5. Frank
    November 10, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Well done sweetie. You took it a step further than I would have.
    The “can you do it for half?” Would have elicited one of two answers from me (depending on my mood):

    1) No.

    2) Yup (in advance please) then proceed to paint exactly half of the commissioned work.

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