Once upon a time there was a rich man. I did not know him first hand, but a friend of a friend told me about him. He told me that the rich man was known to buy the work of artists from time to time. It seemed he owned a number of houses scattered about and they were all filled with the artwork he had collected.

I was told all this, as I am an artist who ostensibly wants to live moderately for my few remaining years and I have a wife and a child who periodically feel deprived and speak sharply on the subject.

I then said to the friend of the friend,

“ If ye indeed knoweth this rich man, extend upon him my good wishes and perhaps he will entertain the idea that with a visit to my abode he will avail himself of the work which hath been created by me.”

Of course I said nothing of the kind, but since this is one of those apocryphal stories, I think that it is a good sentence to throw in around now and it might help set the tone.

Actually, I simply said to the friend of the friend “bring him over. “

I did not whine, or beg, or grovel, as artists are wont to do, I simply invited the man over. The friend of the friend replied that he would indeed extend the invitation to the rich man and that concluded my conversation with him.

The days began to pass and soon I was vexed at the thought of a rich man happily purchasing some of my artwork. I could see it all in my mind’s eye and I thought to myself, "After he buys something, we will stand around, drink a glass of wine, and eat cheese and crackers.”

The days passed some more and I became more vexed.

Gradually the fire, which had alighted my soul upon hearing about the collector grew dim, and I worried that perhaps the rich man would not avail himself of my invitation.

Feeling somewhat morose one day, I decided to call upon another of my dear friends, who is also an artist, in hopes that he could console me.

I called this friend and poured out my soul.

Not only is he a friend and an artist, he also was well acquainted with the friend who had the friend who knew the rich man who collects art.

He, (the artist friend) being wise and learned in the ways of the world, answered me thus:

“You have to become more Zen about these things. If you are not in the right space, nothing will happen. You are trying too hard to control the outcome…..just let it all go. Forget about the rich man and concentrate on that which is in your purview. Remember also to constantly give thanks the universe for all that you have been given.”

A wave of peace swept over me. I determined right then and there to forget all about the rich man and to concentrate on what I did have control over: the creation of my artwork.

I threw myself into my work and soon I felt I was producing the best art I had ever created. I did not hear from the rich man, or the friend of the friend, or anyone. I just worked at my art.

A fortnight went by. One evening, after a long day, I began to think of my good friend the artist.

As it was a nice evening and I was peaceful and serene and thinking fondly of him, I decided to pay the artist friend a surprise visit.

As I approached his home and studio I could see several figures standing outside, drinking what appeared to be wine, and eating what appeared to be cheese and crackers.

As I got closer I was surprised to see not only my artist friend, but also my other friend, of whom I spoke earlier. There next to him was the friend of the friend, who had told me of the rich man. And next to him was someone I did not recognize.

I parked my truck next to a shiny red Maserati convertible, which had the top down and two beautiful women in it.

The group of men beckoned me over, handed me a glass of wine and my artist friend made the appropriate introductions which didn’t take long as I knew everyone but the one person.

As he got around to the man I didn’t know, he said,

“ And this is Bill J, he has a new house in the Hamptons, and he just purchased 7 of my works of art for the house. He also plans to buy more for his other houses."

I congratulated everyone, smiled broadly, drank a sip of wine and ate some cheese and crackers.

A little while later, as the group was breaking up I said to my artist friend, “ Wow, you must be really living a life full of Zen”

“ Don’t be an idiot “ he said. “ After you told me about him, I called up our mutual friend, invited Bill J over, and showed him my work. Then he started to buy almost all of my art. There was nothing to it.”