Novel by Christina Carson
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Quote from Suffer the Little Children:
"Perhaps what we call misfortune is actually a place where the universe interrupts our habits that keep life so limited and small, forcing us to respond differently. The opportunity it offers depends on how hard we work to close the gap or hold it open, allowing ourselves to glimpse realities we've never glimpsed before."
Novel by Christina Carson
Quote from Dying to Know:
"I knew in that moment, we were never meant to surrender our childlike innocence, to trade a world in which we fit like a glove for one that hung on us like ill-fitting hand-me-downs. However, all about us insisted on our membership. And instead of a handshake or a mystical password as entrance into this spurious society, we agreed instead to share a lie, the one that says we’re safe, secure, and fulfilled living this way."
I was twelve years old, had just finished reading Wuthering Heights and was pondering, which I did regularly. I walked to the kitchen where my mum was cooking dinner, leaned against the wall and asked, “Who decides who the Masters are? Who decided that Beethoven was great or Rembrandt or Emily Bronte or Shakespeare and how come so many people agree? What defines greatness?” I was young. I was curious. Mum looked at me for a second, smiled, and she shook her head slowly, while shrugging her shoulders.
I didn’t let the question go. I couldn’t, for it seemed so odd to me to have such universal agreement about something so nebulous. As my life moved on, I heard people discussing the Great Ones, tying their greatness to advances in theory or technique in their time, or superb or inventive style changes, or mastery of character or plot, but I still wasn’t sold. People who knew nothing of these academic assessments still responded to the great ones like subjects before royalty. And stranger still, research had shown Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony increased milk production in dairy cows, and I don’t think it had anything to do with the suggestion of grass in the title. In fact, one group of dairy cows exposed to a staged performance of selected passages from Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor increased production by four percent, when dairy animals normally react to disruptions in their environment by decreasing production. Relaxation was the explanation from farmers and researchers. I, for one, didn’t buy it, at least not as a complete explanation. So what is it about the Masters that we somehow intuitively grasp, which if understood could point toward helping all of us prefect our art.
Friends often accused me of being a perfectionist. It wasn’t true, for neither life nor art was meant to follow in anyone else’s footsteps, and perfection to me meant exceeding some previously determined standard. Finally, in frustration, I said to a friend who insisted it was so, “Think of it this way. It’s just so much more satisfying being the best you can be, for let’s face it, who would you rather dance like, me or Nureyev? Who has the more astounding experiences within their Art if not the Masters? It’s not perfection I seek; I want to know that feeling where everything comes together in a moment.” Then it hit me. That’s what the masters offer us, the possibility of experiencing that with them.
Something happens inside us when we encounter a moment where everything comes together exactly as it should. Don’t you occasionally write a sentence and sit in amazement, wondering where it came from, while its lyricism, or appropriateness, wisdom, or beauty holds you in its magic? How about when five basketball players suddenly meld into one on-going intent, and let us all experience being in the zone? That suggests to me there is an inherent recognition of perfect harmony in us all. When the elements of music, painting, writing or movement reach their zenith of expression, that moment lets us experience the heights to which we humans can rise.
I once read a story about a seeker who approached a Sage with the question of how to become enlightened. The Sage said to him, “You know how when you think a thought it is then followed by silence. Increase the length of the silence.”
Great Art appears to occur from a similar practice. Since it offers us the experience of a moment of utter harmony, the challenge becomes to string more of those moments together. Those who do that in a grand way are who we call The Masters. But in our very recognition of those moments, one other truth emerges. We cannot recognize something we cannot conceive. Those moments live in us all; greatness is our human legacy.