Genius: “1. An exceptional natural capacity of intellect, especially as shown in creative and original work in art, music, science, etc… 4. Natural ability or capacity, strong inclination.” – Random House College Dictionary, 1975
I just read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Christopher, the main character in this young adult fiction novel, is apparently on the Autism spectrum (the book never says it outright) and a mathematical genius. When I finished reading (with tears in my eyes) I thought “this story is genius!” My next thought was, “I want to find my genius.”
It’s been said there are multiple geniuses. Some people have math genius, or musical genius, or athletic genius (although I question that one because the very definition of genius means that it involves the mind). But sports are a mind-game too, are they not? Of course, there are other types of genius – the ability to sell people stuff they don’t need and maybe even don’t really want. The ability to read people by their moods, body language, and by what they don’t say to “get inside their heads”.
I believe there is creative genius in the realm of cooking or arts such as sewing. Some people are born with it and others not. Of course, anyone who can read and follow step-by-step directions should be able to cook a souffle or sew a pillowcase, but we all know someone who can literally make something out of nothing or turn that pillowcase into a House Beautiful objet d’art without running to Hobby Lobby one single time.
Part of genius is, or course, having the desire (being inclined) to do something well. I love music. But I don’t have the gift or desire to compose a sonata, or even a minuet. I’m content to listen to others’ magnificent creations and plink out the occasional Christmas carol on my beloved old upright.
Then there are the truly stellar – people with multiple geniuses. Leonardo DaVinci comes to mind. And maybe Cher. How many people can sing AND act phenomenally? Cher’s her own special kind of genius. And a big part of that is DESIRE. She has worked HARD to get where she is. Think whatever you may of her, but I’m betting “lazy sloucher” does not come to mind.
Desire, or inclination, is huge. We would never know of Michael Jordan or Amadeus Mozart if they had not had the desire to excel with their gifts. It takes desire, whether you had a nutty over-controlling father (Mozart) or not, to take things to the next level and higher.
Bribing school officials aside, plenty of kids have gotten into superior university programs solely because their parents pushed them every day of their lives only to fall to mediocrity or failure as soon as they had to progress on their own power. They didn’t have the desire to be a genius in that arena.
A few days ago. I planned to sew a simple set of curtains with my mother (a sewing genius). Do you already see the problem? Why would I, a 50-something-year-old woman need her mother to help her sew simple curtains? Well. I have thought for years that I had the desire to be a good seamstress. Apparently not.
I love searching out perfect beautiful fabrics. I have a cabinet full of them. I rhapsodize over others’ creations like quilts and table dressings. I fantasize about a house decorated with my homemade goods (that don’t look homemade). But I was not looking forward to sewing with my mom (and no, we don’t have a personal problem). As I prepared, it dawned on me that I don’t enjoy sewing. It was a revelation.
I enjoy all those other parts but not the actual sewing. So, I’m letting it go. I’ll give my fabric away or save it for my very talented daughter (it skipped a generation) or another family member. Perhaps I’ll commission someone to create something with the gorgeous fabrics I’ve collected. But why spend another minute trying to like something that others enjoy and do so much better than me?
I love writing. I don’t fantasize (too much) about the idea of seeing my finished book adorning my shelf (or anyone else’s). I don’t love shopping for laptops and craft books and the perfect pen. I love doing the craft. I am not saying I’m a writing genius, but I do have the desire and inclination to be one.
What do you truly enjoy doing? Most likely it’s tied to your genius. If genius sounds too uppity, think inclination or passion. Go for it. I encourage you to drop all those unnecessary things that you think you should be doing because you used to like it, or you used to have to do it or it’s in your family or whatever. Do what you enjoy doing and make it your genius.
And if you’re wondering how to make the most of your gifts, I suggest reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for inspiration.
I’d love to hear how you’re following your genius. Share with us the things you’ve dropped and the things you’ve gained in reaching for your passion.
Until next time, Cheers!