Thursday, March 26, 2009

Do What You Love

When I was a young man, older people often advised me, “Do what you love, the money will follow.” The problem was that I could never figure out what I loved; there were simply too many things I enjoyed, and I could not settle on one endeavor. I was like the proverbial jack of some trades, master of none. I used to look at people who had been employed at the same job for 20, 30, 40 years, and wonder how they could possibly stay on task that long. My soul was far too restless to contemplate anything beyond a five year horizon.

Twin Rocks Trading Post
Twin Rocks Trading Post

In addition to my professional uncertainty, I had the added handicap of believing that everyone has a specific purpose in life, and that finding it ensures happiness. It is a lot like thinking there is only one real love in your life and you need only locate him or her to be perfectly satisfied. Fortunately for my sanity and the sanity of those around me, I finally realized both those ideals are based in myth, not reality.

When I first moved to Bluff, I expected to stay no more than three years. Having been at the trading post for almost 20 years now, I have learned that love of job, like love in general, is a constantly evolving process which requires immense patience and monumental work. In both arenas, success is never guaranteed and perseverance is the most valuable commodity.

My first years at Twin Rocks Trading Post, like my first experiences with love, were fraught with uncertainty. When artists came in with a basket, a rug, pieces of Pueblo or Navajo pottery, folk art carvings or turquoise bracelets, necklaces or buckles, I found myself completely confounded. Uncertain of my position, I would always ask myself, “Is this a quality piece? Will it sell? How much should I pay? Is the artist asking too much? Am I offering too little?”. The answers were never clear.

Since I was completely unsure what the prices should be, and since my linear mind needed the security of a reliable system for every situation, I universally began the negotiating process by offering the artist half their opening price; if they wanted $200.00, I proposed $100.00. When they began walking out the door, I knew my offer was too low. If they kept pitching, I knew we were getting close. It did not take long for the resident Navajo negotiators to figure out my plan. Once they did, if they wanted $200.00 for their rug, they would ask $500.00. It took me a while to realize that all those broad smiles meant I was now paying a premium.

After a time, I found myself developing relationships with the Mary Blacks, Joann Johnsons and Elsie Holidays of the region, and being a lot more comfortable buying and selling the local arts and crafts. When Barry began coming to Bluff on a regular basis, things got a lot easier; we could bounce issues off one another and generally get close to a sensible decision.

What I ultimately discovered was that I am in love the people and culture of southeastern Utah. It took several years, but I have begun to see the wonder in the bumps, wrinkles and folds of this land and its inhabitants. In so many ways, my relationship with this job and its daily cast of characters is like a marriage; the uncertainty of the early years have given way to a sense of compatibility and comfort. Through all the frustration, fatigue and mania, I have found that I developed an unbreakable bond with this mistress called Twin Rocks Trading Post. Although there are times when I threaten divorce and refuse to acknowledge her presence, I realize that she has become me and I have become her; we are indistinguishable, inseparable. I may have finally found true love.

With Warm Regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

Copyright 2009 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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