When we are children, we don’t imagine ourselves growing up to be the supporting character. We are the adored star, the one whose differences are celebrated for their uniqueness. We imagine standing alone, independent in our achievements. The child’s, “watch me Mommy, watch me, I can do it all by myself,” manifested.
If we ever achieve the success we hoped for, we’d realize it wasn’t through our efforts alone, but in addition to our perseverance, made possible only by fortuitous timing and the support of others – the supporting characters we have imagined clapping in the audience and side stage.
Stanley Bard, the former manager of the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, was a supporting character. Bard allowed the Chelsea, built in the 1880s, to become a home for artists. Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, William S. Burroughs, Bob Dylan, and the list goes on. Timur Cimkentli, a photographer and former resident of the Chelsea said (a quote courtesy of NPR, Morning Edition), “Bard… was kind of like a huge leaf that kids could go under away from the storm, and that was the rarity of this hotel, that he would keep you on, he would see you and you would owe him two months rent and you would cry to him and he would say, don’t worry, keep painting, keep painting.”
Bard is no longer the manager of the Chelsea Hotel, asked to move on after conflicts with shareholders, ejected from his life’s work of supporting others. Bard may never have painted a masterpiece or recorded an acclaimed album, but he created a place for those who were or those who would come to be celebrated – a role that we should remind ourselves is no less valuable than the star we hope to be. “You enhance value in a lot of ways,” said Stanly Bard in a YouTube Video. And he did.