I’m doing this a bit backwards today. Dwayne took me to get my car, we grabbed sodas, I stopped by Target to pick up a new t-shirt (my uniform? jeans and a t-shirt), and was on my way to my time with God, when a friend called. We chatted about a bunch of random things (the movie “Old Fashioned” for one, which you should go see), but ended up discussing being a genius. Our call ended with one comment that brought me up short and that I can’t get out of my mind.
We can all think of a genius or two – Michael Jackson, Einstein, Steve Jobs, Beethoven – and, its safe to say that, while they had one area in their lives that was just a flat out grand slam, many other areas in their lives weren’t even in the ballpark and probably not even in the same city. The ones I immediately thought of are the ones who were very socially challenged. Not just “oh, I don’t know which fork to use at dinner.” I’m talking outside the box of social norms we all try to fit in.
Of course, this led to the web and so much information “suggesting” that the brains of genius’ work differently. Well, that was sure a surprise. What the heck? Everyone can figure that one out. The thing is – they are talking different in ways that we might classify as a mental disorder. Just pick one: OCD, Manic Depressive, crippling anxiety in all of its forms, Intermittent explosive disorder (really? now we can’t even get angry once in awhile?), or even Circadian Rhythm Disorders, . Of course, it could be that we have come up with all of these diagnosis to explain why some might live on the edge of (unacceptable) genius and who might just want to be “average” and live in the box of social norms.
This is not where I was headed when I started this post. Yikes! Where I was headed, and what we ended our conversation with, was the thought that maybe someone is considered a genius because they don’t give up. That’s obvious, but it goes deeper than just not giving up. My friend and I talked through the possibility, that while we immediately take failure personally (“I’m such a failure”), maybe a genius just sees it as part of the puzzle, something to be solved. “Well, that didn’t work.” They have the ability to question and push through inadequate solutions to find other possible answers. What if we all started seeing our challenges that way? What if when we hit a roadblock, instead of heading off on guilt trip road to get to the pity party, we stopped and said, “Hey! This is not ME, this is just a piece of the puzzle. How else could this be solved?” It might not even be our problem. It might be someone else’s.
Even if that’s how a genius might look at what they are focused on, it applies to each of us as well. I realized after heading into a three day funk and giving myself the blistering and often repeated, “Why can’t you pull yourself together and just do what you need to do to feel better?” talk, that it was (again!) that I had missed three days of my time with God. I know I need to have my time with Him to feel calm, connected, to not lose myself in everything swirling around me, and to be guided, but man, oh man, why do I give that time up so easily to stuff that, in comparison, has no value?!? I try not to think I’m a failure at scheduling and planning and using my time wisely, but if I look back over that past sixty days, it would be easy to feel that way and to beat myself up for it too.
What if I decided that I want to be a genius in the area of my relationship with God? What if that was solely my focus and the rest of it came secondary? I’m sure I would be thought of as a zealot (definition please? great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective) or lazy or annoying or a goody two shoes, or even *gasp* a “Molly Mormon.”
What if Stephen Hawking had decided that having a perfectly clean house was more important than his true passion because his in-laws came over once and made a not so nice comment or Steve Jobs or Michael Jackson? Now, I’m not saying in any way that my relationship with God would come anywhere near their level of genius, but my zeal for my cause would most certainly make a difference to me and would touch the lives of those around me.
What if each one of us was a genius in one thing? I’m pretty sure we all are. We just have to be willing to let go of some of the other stuff, like taking our “inadequate solutions” so personally, and give in and live with great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective a little more every day. I hope you do!