I'm not talking just about Susan Boyle as the lotus rising from the blood and muck. I'm talking about the rest of us she brought up from the muck with her.
Here she is (thanks CBSnews.com), the big, heavy, plain, never-been-kissed, forty-seven year old spinster who somehow found her way onto British television via the Britain Has Talent contest. We all know the story by now--how she sauntered out onto the stage to the obvious dismay of both judges and audience and then wowed them to tears with her magnificent voice.
The most wonderful thing for this observer were the chill bumps I got that night watching this apparently clueless underdog shine through both the under and the dog. It got to me, got to me hard and fast. I'd been wallowing in the dregs of the news for hours--you know, the usual slaughters, rapes, murders, ego-maniacal politicians--without the slightest outward reaction--when this woman who obviously had a huge dream and was going to live it no matter the odds--and had been practicing, practicing, practicing--got my emotional juices joyously roiling.
And one can assume that that was the reaction of nearly everyone who witnessed her performance. For a moment we were all dumbstruck by something wonderful, something made more wonderful because it was the last thing we expected. Was our reaction caused by relief that Susan was not going to embarrass herself and so not embarrass us? Would we have been as stunned had that voice come wrapped in more elegant package?
Never mind. What was wonderful was wonderful was wonderful. For a moment we all showed the best of our humanness--we thrilled at the success of someone who, like most of us, had never been great at anything, had been living a life distinguished only by its plainness, and we rose up from the bottom of the mud hole and felt elated and cheered her on. Good for her, good for us.
Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal (http://bit.ly/1mMT6ZC). The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com (http://amzn.to/1j3axVk) and Crossquarter.com. Visit the author's website: douglasarvidson.com