On having geniuses

head-would-explodeYou might’ve heard me go on at some point about how people have geniuses, and that it’s not really appropriate to call people geniuses.  Allow me to elaborate.

Let’s start with breaking down the pieces of what defines what we call “genius”.  Genius is when someone does something exceedingly well with a creative flair, allowing something to be made or thought or written that has never been seen before and does so in a way that enriches others.  (This is my personal simplified version of the definition, your concept might vary a little.)

So, intelligence, creativity, and vision.  Those are the three pieces that put someone in a “genius” category.

The problem is that most people see the word “genius” as applying to all of a person.  A person who IS a genius is supposed to be creative and intelligent and visionary, all at once, about all things.

That’s an awful lot of pressure.

Most people who are labeled as geniuses really only excel at a few areas.  Expecting the planet’s leading physicist to also be able to be brilliant in the kitchen and amazing at personal relationships and able to design and build a house and write the novel of the centuries and knit a sweater and forge metal from scratch and build a computer processor… not really plausible, but all of these things have had “geniuses” doing them.  They weren’t all the same genius.

There’s another level to this word, “genius”.  We think of it as a magical talent that just kind of happens: the genius disappears into a lab or office, and then amazing things are created.  The whole process is very mysterious, not understood readily because not everyone gets to be “a genius”, and geniuses are often not susceptible to questioning.

“Genius” is currently culturally used as a title, and it comes with so much implied responsibility that it’s far more common for people to feel resentful and even a little guilty for not living up to the expectation than to embrace it.  Calling someone A genius can actually get in the way of their ultimate potential being achieved.

Now, if we pull that title and replace it with “human who HAS geniuses”, then we see a completely different emotional landscape.

When I teach my classes, I draw a model where the “you” person is separate from “mind” (intelligence, reason, rational thinking) and also separate from “heart” (emotion, feeling, creativity).  Neither of these things should rule you, they are separate things that can only advise you.  Imagine now also that the things you do really, really well – the talents and vision that you have – are also separate things.

Imagine that each of those talents that give people are like puppies.  They need to be nourished and taught, coddled, disciplined, trained.  Sometimes they are off doing their own thing, and sometimes they demand your attention.

Some people have a whole pack of puppies, some have just a few.  If you nurture a large pack, you might be challenged to find time for all of them, or maybe you’ll be tempted to try to nurture them all in the same way.  There’s nothing wrong with this, but you won’t get the same high level results all the time as you would if you focus only on only one or two.

Developing a genius takes work, study, and practice.  You have to be able to have that seed, of course, of talent or vision, but when you realize that even the most brilliant mind had to take classes and do their homework and make tons of mistakes before they created their huge big success, this gives you permission to look at what you think your talents are maybe expand the definitions a little.

So, let’s say you have a special talent for spatial volume – you can easily eyeball the total volume of any given space with a reasonable amount of accuracy.  This means that you know how many bags of what size you can pack in the trunk of a car, or how many cups of soup are going to fit in a saving container.  You experiment by measuring to see how close you came to being correct.  You can build on that with linear distance, even though you aren’t naturally good at that.

This can be applied to a great number of things.  You might not always be able to develop a non-natural talent with the same ease as a natural one, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t develop them at all.

In my opinion, if anyone does have the right to be called “A genius”, it would be the person who seeks out those non-natural talents and nurtures them in addition to their natural ones.  The process is the same – start with an idea, develop, grow, learn, make something amazing.

See how many geniuses you can have, and then see if you can harness them all together for a genius-sled team.  Have an Iditarod of brains.

So much change…

Really, this post is just an excuse to try out the new WordPress installation.  You know I love to try this stuff out on the little blog before I put it out to the real world…

That, and there are changes happening.  Again.  A lot.

As you may have already heard, we moved again.  Yes, the last time was only in February of this year.  Well, we kinda went from the frying pan into the fire with Daniel’s seizures.  We thought the main problem at the old house was heavy metal poisoning, and that was a problem, but… we were introduced to a whole NEW problem when we got to the new apartment.  The seizures roughly reduced, kind of, mostly due to a difference in the medication, but not significantly.  Our lowest count was around five a day, but normally, it was closer to twelve.  That’s twelve separate episodes, with each episode having anywhere from three to ten seizures each.

Around the middle of November, I took Daniel to the doctor for an emergency blood draw to make sure that the new medication we’d added in wasn’t creating the daily spontaneous nose-bleeds (I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t a factor, but they insist that it was fine).  Instead of heading straight home, I went over to Debbie’s house to drop off a new shelf for her (she really needed a little something right next to the stove), and on a whim, I drove around her neighborhood to see if there were any houses for rent.

Okay… it wasn’t totally on a whim.  It was fueled by the observation yet again that Daniel had few or no seizures when we were out and about like that.  Hypothesis: the apartment was, in some way, toxic.  Repeated exploration of this hypothesis has supported the potential conclusion, and frankly, my nerves couldn’t handle the waiting to get someone to sign off on it.  Every time I went outside to the porch and saw the 28 electrical lines running across the field next to the house, at least ten of which were specifically high-tension wires, I got a twist of fear and anxiety in my gut.

Well, I found a house, and literally the next day, I signed the lease, and we were completely moved in by Thanksgiving.  It’s a three-bedroom, one-bath in Irving, in the Art District, with a one-car garage, a drive-way, a huge backyard… it’s actually a little smaller than the apartment, but the garage totally makes up for it.  And the backyard.  It has a massive cottonwood tree that shades the entire lot – even the already-installed clothes lines.  I am definitely happy with it.

The floors are stone, which is a good thing because it means that there is less dander and no chemical break-down to deal with.  The furnace, water heater, and stove all run on natural gas.  The electrical system was updated recently to the most efficient model possible, and the insulation and drywall have all been replaced in the last couple of years.  The rent is a little more than I was paying before, but I suspect that my utilities will be cumulatively lower.

And the best part?  We have seen an immediate and significant reduction in seizures.  We’re talking only two or three a day.  There was one day that we had twelve, in fairness, but that was the day after the MRI (with sedation).  If we’re actively demonstrating that there was a direct correlation between an intense electromagnetic field and seizures, then it makes sense that we’d have to deal with that kind of fallout.  (In fairness, it could also have been the sedation and the fact that he didn’t really want to eat for a full day afterward, but that hasn’t produced as many seizures that I’ve observed.)

With this change, other things are starting to bubble to the surface.  Old yearnings are coming up, stories are starting to form… but at the same time, there’s almost a more fundamental drive coming forth.  Some time ago, I had a dream that I moved into a new house.  This might’ve been a portent for what we just experienced, but I got more of the impression that it was a symbolic move into a new mode of thinking.  I was getting rid of things that I’d inherited but couldn’t use, transitioning into a collection of things that had purpose and were beautiful – and were all of my choosing.  I wasn’t “saddled” with anything, it was completely me exercising my options.

Now, I want to make my real life match that.  I’ve been going through boxes and getting rid of things I don’t want or need.  I’m not being indiscriminate, but I am being practical.  There are all of these glasses and knick-knacks and dust collectors… they will be packed away in permanent boxes so that nothing can happen to them but they won’t get under foot.  Books that haven’t been read in more than three years are being carted off to Half-Price Books.  Boxes of things that belong to other people are being prepped and put aside.

I’m tired of not being able to move freely in my own space.  There will be much rearranging over the course of the next few months as everything decides where it wants to live.  I am preparing my home for the act of creation, for a phase of creativity, and I’m looking forward to what comes out of it.