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Student’s name, Tom Bracken*

Masters of Arts in Literature

The short story, Do Everything, is my attempt to articulate what I believe to be the most powerful (and enjoyable) element of human experience: contingency. By contingency I mean those "accidents" of life (Flannery O'Connor called them "Collisions") whereby we meet the people who wake us up, force us off our conventional success tracks, and prompt us to live in the present.

One such collision is depicted in Do Everything. The autobiographically based Dixie "slams" into Madelyn and Tony while performing in a comical summer stock theatre. Her experiences with these two working comrades cause her to reevaluate her own talents and goals. Dixie, like most of us, polices herself with purpose: attain your aims, compete, win that standing ovation. She learns through contingency, this collision with Tony and Madelyn, that ambition/competition is oftentimes a blackmail of distraction, a strategy to deaden the immediacy of experience and create silly barriers between human beings.

Thematically, the message or objective of Do Everything is as direct as its title: do everything, live confidently with the awareness that life is subject to accidents that can form and awareness that life is subject to accidents that can form and reform us. Enjoy your very contingent comrades, be they rivals or Romeos. Life is very short indeed, and rarely under our control.