Greetings from Hong Kong!
I am here for a few weeks visiting my daughter. As with all the metropolitan cities in our world today, it is forever evolving. But as HK is still disparagingly described as a cultural desert, I didn’t expect to encounter a giant international Art fair.
So, in spite of jet-lag I spent my first 3 days here happily lost in an art lovers paradise. On the last day, my daughter fell for a stunning limited edition print by a famous contemporary artist. Buying expensive art works is not normal a pastime for either of us but if it is for you, you may not be as surprised as we were by this following experience.
After a couple of hours of agonising to-buy-or-not-to-buy deliberation, my daughter took the plunge. On declaring her intention to buy, we were both staggered to hear from the gallery owner (a complete stranger from the UK across the side of the world) that she could walk away immediately with this expensive picture without parting with a penny or signing any commitment. He explained that they were confident that she would send them the money later. On seeing our mouths drop open, he reassured us that this was the way they liked to work. They preferred to operate on a basis of trust. He refused the offer of a handsome deposit and instead insisted on carrying the picture to a taxi for us.
On the way home we roared with laughter at the ‘naiveté’ of this method of doing business. But once our cynical gut-reaction had dissipated, we began to appreciate the great feeling that being trusted had given us. In the wake of its emotional glow, we started to reflect on other similar uplifting experiences we had with people whom we didn’t know. We shared story after story of occasions when trust had been honoured and also when we had benefitted from a stranger’s honesty in the face temptation. You could build a small mountain from the bags, purses, passports, jewellery,wallets, suitcases and items of beloved clothing that had been lost but which had all been promptly returned by nameless people looking for no material reward.
Don’t worry, I am not about to suggest that we should all take up the business model of this unusual art gallery. But I did wake up this morning thinking that this experience had given me an important reminder worth sharing. I’d forgotten what powerful mood-lifters such experiences of trust and honesty can be. When our ‘souls’ are so battered and bruised by daily doses of depressing examples of human behaviour, perhaps we should share the opposite kinds experiences more widely and more frequently.