The other day, I was watching a Charlie Rose interview with Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the megahit Broadway show Hamilton. I was recently in New York, and my hotel was across the street from the theater. It was torture walking by it each day knowing I’d have to kill someone in order to get a ticket. How I’d love to see that carefully selected original cast on a Broadway stage. How I’d love to witness genius.
Like most people, I’m fascinated by genius. Everyone from Albert Einstein to William Shakespeare. From Marie Curie to Adele. I wonder constantly what it must be like to be so gifted, to be a hair’s width from perfection. Oh, I realize that most geniuses have problems of their own, but they also have the ability to change the world. What must it feel like to have that power?
I know, I know, there’s genius in all of us. Isn’t that what I espouse in this very blog? That we are all brilliant at times? But realized genius is rare. It’s part inborn talent, part unfailing instincts, part unflinching nerve, part relentless curiosity, part rebellion, part passion, and part burning desire to create something new or better.
So it’s true, I think, that all of us have that potential, but few of us are willing to fully pursue it, because true genius also requires a bit of obsession. And with obsession comes sleepless nights, long workdays, agonizing doubt and frustration, and self-criticism. And frankly, these are things many of us would wish to avoid.
So we jump to our feet and applaud wildly when we witness genius. Why? Because we know it was hard-earned and that it is rare and beautiful and we celebrate that. But also because we gain inspiration just from being close to genius. We feel all kinds of hope, and maybe part of that hope is that someday something will light us up and we, too, will find the passion and energy to release our inner genius.