Thursday, April 23, 2009

If I Had Only Known

I have often heard people say, “If I had only known it was going to turn out like this, I would have done things differently.” In fact, I have often used those exact words to describe certain aspects of my life. Lately, I have been wondering how that statement applies to my job as an Indian Trader-Trading Post Lawyer.

Trainrock in Bluff, Utah
Trainrock in Bluff, Utah.

It is difficult to know exactly how one prepares him or herself for a job that requires you to at one moment convince a customer to purchase a turquoise bracelet, necklace, bolo tie or buckle and the next negotiate the sale of an enterprise your client has invested his entire life building. It is often hard to make the transition from drafting an agreement to selling a Navajo rug or basket.

As you may guess, the right brain/left brain dichotomy of these conversions at times leaves me dizzy and incoherent. Customers to the trading post or clients to my law office inside the store must often wonder if I have had too much, or not enough, caffeine. There are, however, parallels. Selling is selling, no matter what the magnitude of the transaction. Experience has led me to the conclusion that the psychology of selling a $100 piece of pottery is not altogether different from that associated with a million dollar deal. People are universally the same, and have generally similar needs when it comes to initiating and consummating a transaction.

Years ago, I left Utah for the sunny skies of northern California and promised myself I would nevermore reside in the Beehive State. Imagine my surprise when a decade later I found myself once more residing in Utah; in the same small town of 225 people into which I was born. Now that was completely unexpected. What was even more surprising was how enjoyable and rich my life would be in this state in general and Bluff specifically.

It has become clear to me that no amount of preparation could have readied me for what I discovered at Twin Rocks Trading Post. I am convinced that had I the sense, and control, to choose where my life would go, I never could have conceived of a more rewarding and enjoyable lifestyle. Upon leaving Utah for the first time since I became old enough to make my own decisions, I dreamed of a life in corporate America; maybe even on Wall Street. No Sir, I was not going to be a small town boy all my life, I assured myself.

As I negotiate a turquoise deal with John Huntress, Bruce Eckhardt or Tony Cotner, or speak in my broken Navajo with Robert Taylor, Mary Black, Betty Rock Johnson or any number of other artists, I realize that I am enjoying an extraordinary view of a rapidly changing world; one where the old ways are quickly giving way to nontraditional values.

During the 1970s, as a result of the federal government’s bonding and reclamation policies, many small turquoise mines closed; never to reopen. As a result, much of the stone we saw in abundance at the time is now unavailable; gone forever. What is available has become highly prized and correspondingly expensive. It is not that I quarrel with the legislation, I just miss the deep greens and blues of those nuggets, slabs and cabochons.

There are times when destiny takes hold of you and sends you in a completely unexpected direction. Surely that can be difficult, even painful. In my case, however, fate has dealt me a superb hand which has been the surprise of a lifetime. Things being what they are in the current economy, I have many reasons to be grateful I did not realize my dream of being a Wall Street resident.

As the Indigo Girls once said, “Whatever happened to anyone else could happen to you and to me - And the end of my youth was the possible truth that it all happens randomly.” The quote most applicable to my life, however, is from Gertudis Gomez de Avellaneda, who said, “Wherever fate demands me . . . I will go.”

With Warm Regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

Copyright 2009 Twin Rocks Trading Post.

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