The pattern of change and repetition is so deeply bound to the particular harmony of life, and the exercise of freedom is subject to it, as to a discipline. One has to serve out one’s changes moderately, like strong wine. I had very little awareness of such things in my existence before Tony: I had no idea at all why things turned out the way they did, why I felt gorged with sensation at one minute and starved of it the next, where my loneliness or joy came from, which choices were beneficial and which deleterious to my health and happiness, why I did things I didn’t want to do and couldn’t do what I wanted. Least of all did I understand what freedom was and how I could attain it. I thought it was a mere unbuttoning, a release, when in fact—as you know well—it is the dividend yielded by an unrelenting obedience to and mastery of the laws of creation. The rigorously trained fingers of the concert pianist are freer than the enslaved heart of the music lover can ever be. I suppose this explains why great artists can such dreadful and disappointing people. Life rarely offers sufficient time or opportunity to be free in more than one way.

Rachel Cusk, Second Place