Genius is a lonely place, but it doesn't need to be

Genius is a lonely place, but it doesn't need to be

Robin was a genius, and genius doesn’t produce normal men next door who are good family men and look after their wives and children. Genius requires its own way of looking at and living in the world, and it isn’t always compatible with conventional ways of living.
— Lillian Ross, The New Yorker (quote found in the book "Robin", by Dave Itzkoff page 354)

“Normal” people dislike those of us who reject conventional ways of living because they find us dangerous to the institutions they believe keep them safe from surprises, heartaches and trouble. 

It’s a big important thing to them, that. Their whole lives are devoted to pain avoidance. And here we are openly embracing it. Celebrating it, even. Way too scary. 

The problem with pain avoidance is in the name itself. Avoidance is not elimination. The pain is still there, just deferred. If you stop making noise for five minutes and sit quietly by yourself it'll rush in, reproaching you. Why do you care so much about institutions and conventions at the expense of your essence? Why put artificial constructs ahead of your very own human need to be seen, felt, and heard? Why do you prefer the illusion of busyness to the real work of living the life you were meant to have? 

Hm?

Geniuses show us the way to live with the pain and thrive in spite of it. And sometimes because of it. Those of us who reject conventions and institutions are trying to follow. Conventional people are the traffic cones on the way to enlightenment, tossing themselves down in a semi-random manner, desperate to avoid having to get up and go, too. Or at least put it off until they feel ready, which is roughly never from now. 

Traffic cones are supremely annoying. But I console myself thinking they can't stop anyone, except themselves, and only temporarily at that. 

Some of them know this, too. They wish they could get up and go, stop stopping themselves as it were. But for one reason or another, it’s not working. 

Instead they take refuge in living by proxy. They find immense pleasure in watching films about unconventional people, or reading about them. They may even celebrate the dead ones, which feels safe enough. But they're too scared to be that way in their own lives.

Which is too bad. Pain avoidance does not lead to a pain-free existence. It just pushes the discomfort forward until it hits the wall of mortality and there's no other choice but to deal with it or die unfulfilled. 

If you have what it takes to be a Robin, be that. If not, do you best to follow someone like him. It's the only way. 

The most valuable skill

The most valuable skill

When someone gives you the right kind of break

When someone gives you the right kind of break

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