Once there was a land that needed a new governor. So the king sent to this land a certain young, well-respected man. Though this man did not know the land he was sent to govern, both the man and the people were excited.
The man and his wife moved into the governor’s mansion, hired a staff, and began to settle in. The mansion was enormous, far larger than any place they had lived before, and there was one wing of the mansion for which they could think of no use.
The governor wanted to get to know his people. It was his habit to take long walks in the morning for exercise, so he ended each walk at the city market.
The market was expansive and busy, filled with the sights, smells, and noises you would expect. Since his staff did his shopping, he had no need to linger by the meats, produce, or baked goods. Instead, he spent most of his time with the artists.
The governor had been raised to love art in every form. He adored music, theater, sculpture, and photography, but he prized paintings above all. He couldn’t get enough.
This city had a thriving community of established and aspiring painters, so the artists’ section of the market was sprawling. New booths popped up weekly. Some sold cheap imitations or outright forgeries, but there were many paintings of astonishing skill, beauty, and insight. The governor’s stroll through the market always left him refreshed and inspired.
After several months, the governor began to feel different after his walks. His brain felt busy, like it was always spinning and never resting. The flood of new paintings was overwhelming, and though he feared missing a gem, he began to wonder about the effect on his soul.
The governor was troubled. He knew exceptional artists at the market—their work deserved more attention. But they couldn’t compete with the volume and speed of the marketplace. They made a living, but their paintings had little impact.
The governor returned from the market one morning, these thoughts swimming in his head. As he walked through the house to meet his wife for lunch, he passed the unused wing of the mansion. An idea struck him in an instant.
He would turn the east wing of the mansion into a gallery. He would preserve the best art in the city by displaying it himself. His gallery would be open to the public on a limited basis, but he could walk through the rooms whenever he wanted.
His wife embraced the idea immediately. Over the next months, the couple visited the market together and carefully purchased the best paintings they saw. Some works depicted scenes of terrific, arresting beauty. Others showed heartbreaking loss, tragedy, or loneliness. Still others championed hope, truth, or forgiveness.
Most paintings would have a limited run in the gallery. Some of the works spoke to the political and social issues of the moment. Others, because of his mood or particular moment in life, struck a note within the governor that might never ring again. But the governor and his wife were delighted to give these paintings an extended life. They hired a curator.
The governor wasn’t trying to make a huge statement with his gallery. He knew he had a lot to learn, and if other citizens wanted to join him, all the better.
The governor continued to visit the artists’ booths in the market periodically. But he learned that lingering over a painting or two in his gallery was almost always better for his soul.