Quartet for the End of Time

Nothing can impact our moods and attitudes like music. It can take us to the highest mountaintop or plunge us into the deepest despair.

To date, seven of my novels have been turned into movies, and I have had the privilege of working on a number of aspects in each of those projects. One of the most disconcerting feelings is to screen raw movie footage without the normal accompanying musical soundtrack. You quickly come to realize that music brings you the perspective of the movie and offers the soundtrack of our lives.

If you doubt there is music for any and every situation, I would like to introduce you to one of my new heroes named Olivier Messiaen. Mr. Messiaen was a talented musician and successful composer in the 1930s. Then the world as he knew it came to an end when the Nazis invaded his homeland, and he found himself living as a prisoner of war in one of Hitler’s dreaded concentration camps. Life and death became a minute-by-minute uncertainty.

Fate lent a hand when one of the prison guards recognized Mr. Messiaen and knew of his musical prowess. He offered Messiaen the opportunity, for a brief period each day, to continue to play and compose in a primitive music room in the camp. There were only four instruments, and some of them were missing strings, valves, or keys, but in the midst of this horrific nightmare, with damaged equipment, and limited access to fellow musicians among the other prisoners, he created a masterpiece.

The halting movements and diminished beat throughout the piece speak to the time and place in which Messiaen wrote and played his Quartet for the End of Time. I would urge you to find a recording of his piece and experience his creation. As you do so, I would like you to think about what masterpieces can come out of your limited situation and marginal equipment. Music does not come from the instrument. It comes from the mind of the musician. Like Messiaen, you may find that the element you most lacked can offer you a virtuoso performance.

As a blind person who spends much of my time writing books that I can’t read that are turned into movies I can’t watch, I understand Messiaen’s feelings of inadequacy; but I can assure you that if the desire exists in your heart, the inspiration will come to your mind, and you can change the world with your own artistic endeavors.

We human beings tend to accept the lowest common denominator. We are much more inclined to defiantly list the things we don’t have instead of expressing gratitude for all that we have been given. If you will take account of the instruments available to you, like Messiaen you will find there is a masterpiece waiting to come forth.

As you go through your day today, listen to the Quartet for the End of Time, and consider your own possibilities.

Today’s the day!
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor; or follow Jim on Twitter @StovallAuthor.

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