An Open Letter To The Genius

Originally published 9/19/2016

Dear Genius,

We are not alike, you and I. We are different in a most fundamental regard.  You view the world as something to be observed and understood.  I, on the other hand, view the world as something to be earned.

I’ve never been accused of being a natural at something.  I have never known the feeling of finding something effortless at first attempt.  In gymnastics, I was always practicing in and out of the gym, long after my peers had tired or lost interest.  The hard work paid off, but it was not an easy journey.  When I got to college, many of my peers were confused or disgruntled at the transition because they’d never had to study in high school.  I got good grades, but that’s because I worked for them.  I was already familiar with studying long hours into the evening, most nights after getting off work at one of my two jobs.  My favorite part of waiting tables was the very real aspect of performance based compensation that rewarded me for my efforts.  Even at an early age, I understood the value of trying.

For years before this, I envied you.  I thought life would be so much better if everything was easy.  I longed to strike awe in the hearts of others when they witnessed how flawlessly I could perform.  I thought the path to success and fulfillment would illuminate before me if only I knew how to be better, faster. Today, I am grateful for the struggle.  I relish the callouses I’ve earned through hard work and the memories of striving to reach a goal.  These travails have shaped who I am and how I experience the world.

I recently finished The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner.  He went searching the world over, attempting to decipher the code of the Golden Age, traveling from Athens to Vienna to Silicon Valley, and everywhere in between.  What he found on his quest was not a formula for creating superior intellect to inspire acts of greatness, but rather it was a combination of discernment, diversity, and disorder that did the trick.  This is reassuring to me.  As I have struggled to find answers to the meaning of my life, experience has taken me on quite a diverse journey, often through periods of great disorder.  It seems I may be on the path to greatness, after all.

You may think you have it all figured out.  You may even look down on the likes of me, pitying my slow traverse.  But in forming this opinion, you have closed yourself off to learning.  You have already decided I have nothing to offer you because you are so much smarter, wiser, and more efficient.  Here is where I remind you that everyone knows something you don’t.  I’ve learned to appreciate the twists and turns in life for the change of scenery.  I guarantee I’ve seen and experienced things you can’t imagine.  But you’ll never know because you choose to simply observe me from a distance.

If you ever change your mind and open yourself up to experiencing my messy grit close up, I’ll be here, toiling away.  You may even surprise yourself by learning something unexpected.


The Hard Worker