Creative Genius

Yesterday a friend mentioned, jokingly, that, once again, he was bypassed for the MacArthur genius grant. Yup. Me too.

But wait. Another person’s success can guide and catalyze you.

I have been a genius at parenting, teaching, writing. I have also been an utter and complete failure.

The problem with lone geniuses? In my opinion, there’s no such thing. All geniuses need a partner, a team, a band.

The Beatles created their great work when they competed against each other. On 60 Minutes last week, Paul McCartney talked about feeling competitive in his songwriting with John Lennon.

“If he’d have written [‘Strawberry Fields Forever’], I would write ‘Penny Lane’, you know, and it’s – he’s remembering his old area in Liverpool, so I’ll remember mine.”

So genius entails walking the streets of our childhood and young adulthood. One of my adult students has asked me to offer a writing workshop on the subject of sexual abuse and survival. So many of us have memories dredged to the surface during these Senate Supreme Court hearings.

I am figuring out how to offer this. Because writing about our vulnerabilities from a childhood place is a way into genius, but you have to feel safe.

How safe are you today? How vulnerable can you be in your art?

And another thing — Who among your friends is not a genius? I know that all of my friends are geniuses and worthy of reward.

What is genius?
What does genius have to do with creativity?

This I know: Intense emotions and pursuit of healing can lead to artistic acts of genius. So I will leave you with these two thoughts:

“Sometimes one of the great things [that] motivates a song is anguish.” -Sir Paul McCartney.

“The creative adult is the child who has survived.” – Julian Fleron

One of my personal heroes, Rev. William J. Barber II, a winner in this year’s 2018 MacArthur Genius awards.

4 thoughts on “Creative Genius

  1. Mary Beth,   Your girls are wonderful and probably missing you a lot.Maybe they are distilling and will exchange paragraphsof small and tall victories; monologues by telepathy willbe delivered in a magic instant when you see them atThanksgiving?  How is Hayden?  What a wonderful crew.   If you ever have time would you think of taking a walk up Riverside?  You must be running.  Let me catch you at a walk.   I ever enjoy reading your posts.  Thank you for takingthe time to document your path.   Ina

    From: To Pursue Happiness To: Sent: Friday, October 5, 2018 1:05 PM Subject: [New post] Creative Genius #yiv7298103317 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv7298103317 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv7298103317 a.yiv7298103317primaryactionlink:link, #yiv7298103317 a.yiv7298103317primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv7298103317 a.yiv7298103317primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv7298103317 a.yiv7298103317primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv7298103317 | mbcoudal posted: “Yesterday a friend mentioned, jokingly, that, once again, he was bypassed for the MacArthur genius grant. Yup. Me too.But wait. Another person’s success can guide and catalyze you.I have been a genius at parenting, teaching, writing. I have also been ” | |

    1. Thanks, Ina. You’re my inspiration. Yes, to a walk. I’m always looking for a friend so I can get out and about. I work until 4 most days. Any time afterwards. Some of my book club buddies are going to see Bryan Stephenson, author of Just Mercy, supported by the JCC, on Wed. Think about can join us.

  2. For a long time I’ve wondered why I ‘just can’t get started’ with goals and dreams. In assumed there was a system, a strategy, maybe a piece of knowledge I lacked. But yesterday I wondered if it was learning to interpret the emotions I normally fear will over-power me, make me feel unworthy, the visceral intuitions I keep at bay. Maybe soon I can embrace them again. Thank you, MB.

    1. Keep asking the questions. Your time will come. I think all of us feel that we are missing some key secret that everyone else has. But we have all that we need. Thanks for being you.

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