Last week the New York Times ran an article with this attention-grabbing headline: “To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old”
The article notes, “We tend to assume that creativity wanes with age. But …some people actually become more creative as they grow older. Unfortunately, those late-blooming geniuses have to contend with powerful biases against them.”
So do early-blooming geniuses, whose abilities for imagining, empathizing, exploring, creating are as unrivaled in their way as those of our eldest, with whom they are kindred spirits.
What we must do to tap into their genius early and often is to radically overhaul what it means to be a genius, what it means to be gifted, what it means to ‘bloom’.
My experience over the last 20-plus years philosophizing with people of all ages and walks of life is that even so-called ‘slow learners,’ and ‘special education’ children have singular capacities for imagining, for being, for doing that they — and we as a society — scandalously miss out on tapping into, because of rigidly and unimaginatively blindered notions of what giftedness and genius can and should amount to.
Fact is, in an ideal world, conditions would be such that we’d recognize and celebrate that every single human being has a genius or geniuses — has qualities and talents and gifts that can contribute to a more vibrant humankind. This is no pollyanna-ish assertion. It is fact.
My lament is that, as things stand, the world is such that too few, tragically too few, at all ages and stages of life — but especially our youngest and oldest, who are the most marginalized among us — have the opportunity to discover, much less cultivate and reveal and share, their geniuses.
As I note in The Philosophy of Childing, “Those close to the beginning and the end of the human life cycle have a kindred curiosity, openness, and honesty, and they share enthusiasm for following a line of inquiry wherever it happens to lead.”
This in turn leads to continual revelations and epiphanies on their part of the genius variety.
If only those of us of adult age in a position to do so who are in between these two age groups would do our utmost to make it possible for them to discover and cultivate their geniuses, it might rub off on us as well, and as a result we might well tap into our own inner and outer geniuses ourselves.
It’s an effort worth making on our part, an effort that in and of itself would be a kind of ‘genius in action.’