Thursday, June 11, 2009


An Internet dictionary defines "genius" this way:

▸ noun: exceptional creative ability
▸ noun: someone who has exceptional intellectual ability and originality ("Mozart was a child genius")
▸ noun: unusual mental ability
▸ noun: a natural talent ("He has a genius for interior decorating")
▸ noun: someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field

As far as descriptive language goes, it all makes sense. These are recognizable ways in which the word "genius" can be used. And yet I find myself wanting to add to those descriptions ... "modest by nature."

I don't mean Steppin' Fetchit modesty, the kind of stuff displayed in the "Kung Fu" TV serial or the passive-aggressive appearances that can go on display. There's nothing saying a "genius" could not or would not enjoy the talents of the time.

And yet within that realm of great skill and understanding and ability, wouldn't a true genius recognize the tentative nature of things? Not be sad or agitated about what might be lost or gained, but just recognize what was verifiably true? Not scramble to shore up some imagined accomplishment, but see into the nature of what others might call genius?

Geniuses are often distinguished from the rest of us. They are better, more accomplished, smarter and sometimes astounding in their abilities. But I would say that everyone has the capacity for genius about at least one thing, a thing that no one else could ever be a genius about: Themselves.

On hearing such an assertion, some retreat to a safe or 'humble' or perhaps frightened distance: "There's no genius in that. That's too ordinary, too boring, too egotistical. That's stuff anyone could know." But this is just immodest bullshit. What better realm in which to express genius? Hell, you don't even have to go to the library. All the tools are at hand.

Yes, there will be mistakes. But mistakes are what teach and enrich geniuses. And some will stop short of genius, imagining that genius is something they can or will or have attained... ego-trippers and assholes -- haven't we all done that? No one ever said that becoming a genius didn't require some effort.

Besides writing a symphony or winning the Tour de France or creating a better mouse trap or finding the cure for the common cold or inventing a car that runs on water ... isn't there a longing in everyone to be a genius?

So ... why not become one? Nothing special, right? But maybe more fun.

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