Boylston Street, circa 1990. Me sitting in an exceedingly small, ultra fancy, hair salon getting highlights. I was full-on miserable trapped beneath a large black cape with hundreds of pieces of foil in my hair.
From the ammonia and other chemicals, I smelled like an industrial accident. My eyes burned so badly that they were watering causing an epic mascara tragedy—black streaks all over my pasty white winter skin. I had a weird Johnny Depp anti-hero thing going on.
Did I yet mention that the space was tiny? As if my worst nightmare was coming true, in walks the most amazing human. Something extraordinary and magical about him. Yes, very good-looking, but there was something else, too—that intangible, magnetic quality. And of course, they put him right next to me.
We were surrounded by mirrors, about 2 feet apart. There was no avoiding interaction. As I pretended not to stare at him, my memory got triggered… I knew him! I was relieved, even thrilled, to see someone I knew from Texas. A homey. Since moving to Cambridge I had been extremely homesick. Massachusetts and Texas are different, and that’s an understatement.
I looked straight at him and said, “We went to high school together!” As nicely as he could, he replied, “I don’t think so, but I get that a lot. I’m Timothy Hutton.” Yes, I was sitting next to the youngest Academy Award winner ever. [pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Yes, I was sitting next to the youngest Academy Award winner ever. [/pullquote] A splash of some terrible feeling came over me. My tongue tried to roll backwards—a clear indication of impending death. I remember thinking I should flee before rigor mortis set in. There are now—and were then—no words to describe my response, nor did I understand it.
Timothy-Hutton-pain started again when I started making my bucket list as I approached age 40. What you see typed out and pictured above is the fancy version of my bucket list for the blog. Pictured next to it are the little tiny scraps of paper that are the real bucket lists. I carry them around in my wallet, because they mean more to me than anything I could buy with money.
Meeting Oprah has been #1 and #2 from very early on. I would add things to the list when I was in a great mood, or in a good writing moment. However, there were times that I would even glance at the list, and it would trigger deep pain. I’ve had friends over the years who’ve suggested that we track down Oprah, and I would be mortified to even acknowledge their suggestion. More Timothy-Hutton-pain. How could I make a list of my truest hearts desires and dare not to even make a plan for it? How could I not want to see Oprah?
Turns out that Timothy-Hutton-pain and Oprah-aversion was ultimately about a something you can’t write on a list. What I wanted from Oprah and Timothy Hutton was their genius. Their ability to do things so out there, so brave and brilliant and new. Genius is that intangible, immeasurable something that we really can’t even define with formulas and logic. Of course this is why I was upset. What I wanted is something no one can teach us. In my mind, it was like saying you can’t get there from here.
When I was little ( in 1970), they tried to predict your genius with a test. As soon as they could teach us to read, they administered some kind of “intelligence” test to us in school. I think most of us were stamped with an invisible “not genius” on our foreheads and written off fairly early. To further verify my station smack dab in the middle of the bell-shaped curve, my dad consulted the Reader’s Digest—the real experts on genius. I remember being summoned to the chair near his desk and ask the questions for whom the answers the Reader’s Digest deemed only a child prodigy would know. Apparently everything about my being was considered normal, plain. Much to my chagrin, this was my lot, and no one seemed particularly happy about it.
My only consolation existed in history itself. I was taught by many wonderful teachers that there were persons who started out plain and sometimes challenged, too. Michelangelo was the son of a marble quarry owner. His mother died when he was only seven, and he showed no interest in traditional schooling. He just liked to chisel stones. Likely the most prodigious artist of the Renaissance, Michelangelo was rivaled only by da Vinci in his contributions in sculpture, painting, architecture, poetry and engineering. Six hundred years later, we form lines to gape in awe at his work.
Even Albert Einstein started out with his own challenges—in fact, many challenges. Little Albert had speaking difficulties, yet published a paper at age 25 that altered scientific history. Einstein’s brilliance was so beyond that of his peers that he was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize for one of his relatively lesser contributions because few on the planet really understood his theories of special and general relativity.
Genius, and the trials and tribulations that comes from its status, is perhaps the most elusive affliction for which we all hope to be burdened. Who doesn’t want to be considered gifted? Where I raised my children, all you had to do to fill up your expensive preschool was to declare it a school for the gifted. Clearly, most people would like their children have a gift, even if they dare not consider that they might have one too.
What you want for your children and what I wanted from Oprah and Timothy Hutton was the genius I had kept deeply buried—self denial. As I’ve discovered, genius is simply our purest, most effortless self, manifesting that which comes effortlessly for each of us.
Genius is blissful, glorious, and where all your power and worthiness lie.
Genius is it the thing for which we are all searching, because it’s no less than a state of true magic. Yes, it’s a mind-body state. It is the universal win-win. We are given the gifts that only we can open and provide to the world, and it is all we will ever want to do. When you deny your genius, there is pain.
We are all hard-wired for genius, and many of us still choose self-denial. There is a long list of reasons we create lives where we repress and deny. I have a PhD in that. I call the first 35 years of my life, “The Great Repression.” As someone who has been listening to the universe for a long time, I now understand that pain is a gift—it means your system is working.
What we are to do on Earth is so important that the Universe has manifested every pain as the same pain. All pain is self-denial. Pain is the frontier within us all trying to emerge. It is always your choice. To be me, or not to be me. Here’s what I know about that.
When you’re living your life in denial, you will never feel worthy of the beautiful shoes you purchase to walk you to the subway in order to get highlights at the most exclusive salon in Boston so you can sit next to an Academy Award-winning actor. The pain is unreal. [pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]There is no medication or bucket list that can fix you denying you. Not even Oprah herself can help you.[/pullquote]
We must dare to be ourselves, hear our genius. Genius is that something that happens only because we were here—it is our contribution to the planet. Every human being on Earth contains unique truth, capable of unimaginable feats of heroism and boundless acts of humanitarianism. As Robert Frost reminds us, our path will diverge from the path of everyone else at some point.
There is still great misunderstanding around what constitutes genius. Many of us have watched Jeopardy, and have decided that’s what it looks like. I would define most of these people to be amazing scholars. Scholarship is focused in things that have been done before and is a wonderful way of learning about the world. Schooling creates scholars, who may or may not ever uncover their genius. We now live in a world where we are searching for genius through scholarship. Yet for many, we’ve happily traded scholarship (and self-denial) for genius. If we look like we know a bunch of facts, we win. Whew.
The paradox of scholarship is that in schools we are reading and learning about people who are geniuses. From the genius state, one will know and contribute ideas, art, brave acts that have never been written or said before that contribute profoundly and abundantly to the greater good.
Genius is a different playing field entirely. Our genius will require us to do and say things no one else ever has. For a moment, be your great-great-grandfather saying he is going to fly in the air one day in a machine. What do you think your great-great-grandmother said to him? Or be Ben Franklin telling his friends he’s going to overthrow the government and commit high treason, or invent bifocals, or fly a kite in a lightning storm.
You can see how it would be easy to shut off you and all you need to do here. We stay stuck because we perceive we are going to have to hurt someone, to be different. We may perceive we might even hurt lots of folks to just simply do what we came here to do. Because we care about people, we feel like we need to stay small and stuck. In my next few posts, I will teach you that these are illusions that we will question and release. For you to suffer, so others won’t, is probably the most dangerous illusion of mankind.
Genius has 4 qualities that are not linked with traditional scholarship simply because they are innate characteristics we’ve forgotten in ourselves. We all are genius, even me. And no, I cannot stand toe-to-toe with anyone on Jeopardy. Quite frankly, they would kick my ass. Genius is a completely different conversation than scholarship, yet often involves scholarship. Here are the qualities of genius that may help you remember what you came here to do.
Genius is irrational. The universe is irrational and genius comes from the ability to see the irrational as well as the rational. The genius mind incorporates the irrational pieces of data and sees them as normal. As Alice who found herself in Wonderland where many irrational thing occur, you are hard-wired to hear and understand wildly irrational things. This is normal for us. For example, not only will you learn two plus two is four, you will understand that two has many different meanings as well, that have nothing to do with mathematics. If you are blocking the irrational pieces, you will perceive the world to be scary and mysterious. Yet the universe you live in is profoundly comprehensible. The most famous genius of our time alluded to this. Albert Einstein noted, “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is its comprehensibility.” When in the proper mind-body state we can understand everything we wish to know.
Genius is divinely elegant, perfect and beautiful. Genius is so elegant that everyone can see, will want it and know it’s truth. This is where your perfectionism comes from, in fact. You are bothered when you can’t see answers, and you are working hard to achieve this elegant perfection. Yet, I will teach you in the next posts that to achieve this mind-body state is not about trying harder, but about challenging illusions of the mind that we create to block our genius. Consider this, when a genius discovery is made, everyone will know it’s the correct answer and stop looking for answers. Why? Simple because the answer is so elegant and perfect, there could be no other answer. We are all able to see this kind of perfection. The mathematician Richard Buckminster Fuller said it best, “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty, I think only of how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” And so it is with all truth.
Genius has never been done before. As you exist uniquely, you are designed to contribute uniquely to the greater good of the universe. There will be questions only your mind can answer, or other unique manifestations of the mind-body that only you can do and will want to do. What’s even more beautiful is that whatever this thing is, it will be the only thing you feel you want to do. It is the universal win-win, and why I write a book called Benevolent Universe. There are only win-wins here. If you feel like every choice is a lose-lose, you simply must realign your posture.
Genius cannot be taught. Genius originates in a mind-body state that can be accessed, but not taught. We cannot learn it and no one can teach it to us for one reason—we already know it and are simply denying it. It is the only thing we universally seek(or deny we’re seeking) because our genius is linked with our abundance and worthiness on earth. Yet others will support you. In fact, they will appear just when you need them.
Know this: the world weeps without you doing “your thing.” Your genius is linked with a mind-body state that you’re trying to access constantly. It is the state of mind-body in which you will painlessly and effortlessly know what to do with your life. Every moment. The genius state has a name, too. You already know it and speak of it on a daily basis. It is called Zero State, or simply Zero. Check out my ZEROES ARE HEROES post to learn more about the genius state of being. Thank you for supporting the blog.
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