Minshall and Mastery
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by one Peter Minshall. In case you are neither Trinidadian nor a "Carnival person," Minsh as he is called, is simply the premier authority on Mas', short for Masquerade.
You might think, as I did, that he would be stuffy, stodgy and pompous. After all, he designed the opening ceremonies at 2 recent Olympics, and one World Cup (that I recall.)
I have personally have no patience for the specie of human that requires constant stroking in order to keep a massive ego stimulated. I have always suspected that he was this way.
I was so very wrong (and am so very glad.)
His lecture at UWI Cave Hill was nothing short of an encounter with Mastery and Genius.
It reminded me of other encounters I have had with other people I consider to be Masters, and what they seemed to have in common.
Love and Courage
Mastery does not come to the faint of heart. It takes courage to fall in love, and even more courage to love what many others both deride and disregard.
For every single person that loves what they do for work, it seems that there are thousands of others who are working in their jobs just for the money, the bills, the weekend and retirement. Their hearts are not in what they do
They are actively wishing they could be doing something else, while going through the motions required by their job. To be in their presence is to be with someone who has enslaved themselves to their fears.
According to The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, they bake a bitter bread.
Masters are able to love even the unlovable job. They have found a way to commit themselves to their calling, and to "take it for all it's got'' according to Virgin Airways. I don't know that they necessarily have more talent or luck than the rest of us, but at one point they all seem to have made at least one courageous choice in favor of their calling.
Minshall moved back to Trinidad from London to design costumes. Eric Williams left a teaching position at Howard University. Norman Manley left his legal practice. Brian Lara accepted a special slot at Fatima, an upper-class school, when his parents were from the humble working-class.
It takes courage to love so much, and to step out in spite of one's fear, and that of others.
Masters seem to be always having fun playing with the instruments of their craft. They are constantly tinkering with, and continuously improving their craft, or their tools.
Like children, they are always pulling things apart to try to put them back together and thereby learn its secrets. They become engrossed in what they are doing at every opportunity and are unwilling to settle for anything less than full, 100% engagement.
Masters often seem not to suffer fools gladly. They have patience with those who are willing to learn, but are not interested in wasting time.
They call it as they see it, and their interest is in gaining the shortcuts to further mastery wherever possible. They tend to be absolutely unwilling to indulge in harboring criminal thought, behaviour and habits; the crime being the destruction of their own mastery.
This strikes most of us "hanging out'' in the mediocre middle as harsh. After all, we allow mediocrity in our own lives and that of those around us in spades. Along comes a master who is unwilling to "drink the Kool-Aid" along with the rest of us, and who starts being loud about it, and our natural reaction is to resist them, and in the odd case, to kill them.
Minshall took me so far beyond my concept of Mas' in that lecture that... well, no, I've already paid my deposit to Tribe (a beads and feathers band.)
But I'm wide open, now, to expanding my experience of playing Mas' so that I can engage my brain along with the rest of my body!