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Here's a "gear" story.

   "On November 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on
    stage for a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New
    York City. If you've ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that
    getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken
    with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks
    with the aid of two crutches. To see him walk across the stage, one
    step at a time, very deliberately and slowly, is an event. He walks
    painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits
    down, slowly puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on
    his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward.
    Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin,
    nods to the conductor, and proceeds to play.

        "By now the audience is used to the ritual. They sit quietly while
    he makes his way across the stage to his chair; they remain
    reverently silent while he undoes his clasps on his legs; they wait
    until he is ready to play.

        "But this time something went wrong. Just as he finished the first
    few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it
    snap--it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no
    mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he
    had to do. The people who were there that night thought to
    themselves, 'We figured that he would have to get up, put on the
    clasps again, pick up the crutches and amble his way offstage to
    either find another violin or else find another string for this one.'

        "But he didn't. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes, and
    then signaled the conductor to begin again. The orchestra began,
    and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such
    passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard
    before. Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a
    symphonic work with just three strings; I know that, and you know
    that. But that night, Itzhak Perlman refused to know that. You
    could see him modulating, changing, recomposing the piece in his
    head. At one point it sounded like he was detuning the strings to
    get new sounds from them that they had never made before.

        "And when he was finished, there was an awesome silence in the
    room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an
    extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the
    auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing
    everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he
    had done. He smiled, wiped the sweat from his brow, raised his
    bow to quiet us, and then he said--not boastfully, but in a quiet,
    pensive, reverent tone-- 'You know, sometimes it is the artist's task
    to find out how much music you can still make with what you have

        "What a powerful line that is! It has stayed in my mind ever
    since I heard it. And who knows? Perhaps that's the way of life, not
    just for artists, but for all of us. Here is a man who has prepared all
    his life to make music on a violin of four strings, who all of a
    sudden, in the middle of a concert, finds himself with only three
    strings. So he makes music with three strings. And the music he
    made that night with just three strings was more beautiful, more
    sacred, more memorable than any that he had ever made before
    when he had four strings.

        "So perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering
    world in which we live, is to make music--at first with all that we
    have, and then, when that's no longer possible, to make music with
    what we have left."

Jack Riemer of the Houston Chronicle

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