The French painter Theodore Gericault, born in 1791, was a child of his age, filled with its bounding forward movement and fascinated with capturing the velocity of action in paint. His coarse sensuous face belied an exquisite sensitivity to nuances of motion and speed, and an amazing technical dexterity in depicting them in paint. Although he began painting at an early age, until he was 21 he had never painted a horse. Then one morning in 1812, at the time of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, he planned to spend a pleasant day at the St. Cloud racetrack. Instead, he had a spellbinding visual experience that forever changed his artistic life. Quite simply, he saw a horse pass by. The sight of the biting, prancing, rearing horse struck him with a tremendous force that influenced all his subsequent work, focusing his energies and shaping his artistic vision. Yet – and this is why I’m writing this piece – if he had seen that same horse the next day he would very likely not have given it a second thought. It makes me wonder: what is it that happens in these moments of inspiration, heightened perception, awareness, whatever you choose to call it? What comes together in this moment and only this moment from the personal depths and the happenstance of an ordinary day that so instantly and permanently restructures one’s psychic landscape? And what features does it share with profound spiritual experiences?