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

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