You can try your best to fight it but, it won’t do you any good …
The cycle of life, whether we like it or not, will inevitably impose its sovereign dictate that—everything must change.
Everything has to begin somewhere and absolutely all good things must come to an end. For the most part we accept the mandate that opportunities will ebb and flow, that people will come and go; that time does not stand still. And, although we might get stuck trying to figure out how to make the best out of what it is we can’t control, seldom do we resist the reality that night will follow day, that winter must surrender to spring, that young becomes old, old becomes new and that new almost always predictably improves.
But “new and predictably improved” will fight for its very survival when the audacity of a rare and inspired genius—is revealed.
Salieri was very good. Mozart was a genius. Peter Keating was the standard. Howard Roark threatened to redefine the rules of the game.
Playwright Peter Schaffer’s Amadeus revolves around the murderous, destructive envy of the imperial court composer Antonio Salieri aimed at a younger, bolder revolutionary Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his divinely inspired musical gifts. Mozart produced one brilliant work after another that continued to profoundly transcend what had already musically been done. Author Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead centers on the brilliant and seductive talents of Howard Roark who chooses to “struggle against the powers that be rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision by pandering to the prevailing taste”. Peter Keating, on the hand, in his desperate effort to climb the proverbial ladder, seduces, flatters, cheats, lies and steals for opportunity to make it to the top.
And so the stories go,
Salieri and Keating were better than sufficient until the glaring possibility of a new reality came crashing down on them. As the Kapellmeister to the Viennese Hapsburg Court, Salieri was the more powerful person politically, content with his talent and status in court until his musical rival came to Vienna. Likewise, as someone more than willing to go along with the game, Keating has all of the establishment support. He too is doing just fine until faced with the uncompromised architectural talents of a superior rival.
While Salieri’s accomplishments are as a result of hard work, Mozart has been endowed with a gift for seeing beyond, and the ability to be inspired. Roark is an ideal man and Keating is a man who has yet to find his own voice. Salieri becomes obsessed with conspiring against Mozart. Keating vows that Roark will be destroyed because -
“What has always been” will tolerate with indifference “a little bit better than” but when confronted with the shock of an unprecedented talent, expect that all hell will break loose.
We accept without fighting that—
Night will follow day, winter must surrender to spring, young becomes old, old becomes new and new almost always predictably improves. But “new and predictably improved” will wage war for its very survival when the audacity of a rare and inspired genius is unexpectedly revealed.
In the end, Salieri does eventually kill Mozart and Keating tries his best to bring Roark to his knees. Yet, Howard Roark goes on to build an eternal monument in the spirit of his brilliance and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music breathtakingly endures. In the end it is the mediocre determined to destroy the superior that is itself destroyed under the power of an audaciously inspired genius once revealed, that threatens to shatter the very existence of normal while it echoes the promise of a brand new day.
What does not need permission—will not be denied, and—everybody can’t be Mozart!
Yes, we’re all good at something and some of us are very good at one particular thing. And, while all “men” may indeed be fundamentally created equal, some "men" are just destined to touch the sky—those rare individuals whose talents reside somewhere in the heavens; whose genius propels them to a place beyond—and I choose to give my self permission to surrender and to bask in the glow of genius wherever I can find it; to be transported and to find my better self.
I have considered, with concern, the destiny of a generation caught up in the habit of shunning and suppressing greatness, risking the possibility of conquering new frontiers for the satisfaction of not being outdone.
Have you stopped to consider that cost?
Have you imagined this world without Einstein or Gandhi, without Jordan or Mandela or Baryshnikov? Without Shakespeare or Aristotle where would we be now? Consider the mastermind behind the first man on the moon and envision what might be next to come.
Really hard work goes a long way in achieving greatness. Cunning and strategic maneuvers when you’ve got establishment support, may serve to put you over the top. But every now and then, the unpredictable comes along and threatens the status quo by offering true greatness.
Perhaps, when presented with the privilege to dwell with and learn from someone who is exceptionally gifted, you might lay down your arms, surrender, and permit yourself to generously receive and then happily—go along for the ride.