Sunday, June 24, 2007

Flashes of Genius (leave spots in your eyes)

You have probably noticed that when a camera flashes in order to get the least realistic lighting for the image of you which will afterwards be shown to everyone, your eyes smart with odd lights and spots (like seeing something in negative color) for moments afterward. Is it possible that genius, which for me only comes in flashes and not in sustained blazes at all, leaves the same effects? I thought it was a fun way to describe the semi-incoherence I am presently experiencing and the truth of Jack Sparrow's comment on "madness or brilliance": "It's remarkable how often those two traits coincide."

I just watched most of a movie called Proof (skip chapter 7 and don't watch if you're sensitive to language) starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. The plot is about insane math geniuses (I know it's not all that original; then again, I believe many math geniuses were or became insane, providing the world with several interesting stories for inspiration). The movie is a mystery as you're not sure whether what you want to believe is really the delusions of a maniac. Characters are frustratingly quiet - intentionally so by the writers' parts.

The experience of an hour and a half is that I'm desperate to simply be a genius, and not to have to prove myself or make myself clear. I want a few people to be interested in my thoughts and not need or want explanations. However, I do not want to be a genius at math, and especially not at proofs, as those seem like a lot of work.

So in what field do I want to work, do I want to be a true proficient genius? At the end of the movie, overwhelmed by all the work the details of which were conveniently avoided in the script, I thought that I could invest hours and effort like that only into being a person. Which I know sounds strange because everyone is a person. What I mean is relationships, teaching, discipling, listening, being a friend, a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister. Some days, like the characters in the movie, I'm afraid to try. I don't try; I waste days.

I like writing, would really love it if I were a genius at expression, but I know I'm not. And sewing is fun; designing my own ways of putting a dress or apron together is exciting, but I am only really good enough to satisfy myself and to do simple things. Decorating is an exercise that always inspires me, yet there again I'm no creative wonder. On cooking and desserts I can improvise and experiment a little outside of the recipe's lines; many people can do that. In fact many people can be good at relationships.

Is it a rule that to be a genious you have to be exceptional? Did God possibly create men originally with the capacity to all be geniuses? What would a world be like if men were all brilliantly intelligent? What would our world be like if everyone was an expert at relationships?

In any case, I think that the expense of a life is worth the investment in others' lives. I believe it is God's calling for me.

Speaking of callings (and thank you for heeding my thoughts without explanation, as I'm in a burst of bullet-thoughts after the movie), Proof is set in Chicago. I love Chicago. There are a lot of scenes in winter, which I have not personally witnessed, but I hear it is the worst. Everyone wears coats and hats and walks carefully on the ice. In the early fall there are trees, and the lake, and big old houses. At night there are lights climbing into the sky testifying of the magnificent buildings that dazzle me every time I visit Chicago. Parks, stone, humidity, airports, buildings, trees, grass. The sights gather me up as if in their arms and hold me tight. God has taken me to Chicago several times.

If He ever brings me again, I'll be more excited even than last time I went. Last time was so precious, so much more like home than any place I've ever been, but God taught me then that if He won't give me something that I want so much (to stay in Chicago), He must have a really good reason, a calling here, where I am now. So I stay here, knowing this is where God wants me. I'd never go to Chicago even for a visit unless God brought me, because I don't want to go anywhere without Him. But when He brings me again, I'll know more than ever what a chance it is.

When I say things like "brought" I don't mean anything weird like being forced there or finding a ticket in my purse one day. God simply, in a way very like Him, works out details that fit with what I already know He wants me to do. And "without Him" still acknowledges that He is everywhere; I just mean against Him, I guess.

Miss Potter also deals with the theme of home, of living in a place where you belong, where your heart is at rest and you are inspired. Though I profess to love Chicago most of any place in the world, I haven't visited the Lake Country where Miss Beatrix Potter lived, and might change my mind if I ever get to visit. That is the movie I watched yesterday with some of my friends. We had quite the lace-bedecked party, eating something called Chocolate Trifle and my first try (successful!) at fresh-squeezed lemonade, and french toast and strawberries... In honor of the title character we each read aloud a passage of our favorite children's litererature. The afternoon was wonderful, and I went to bed thinking, "Praise, praise, praise to my Good God."

To God be all glory.

1 comment:

ZJRamsli said...

Great post Lisa. You always get me thinking.

“Flashes of Genius”; that’s good, I like that. It is so true that madness and brilliance often coincide.
That got me thinking about some of my favorite on-screen characters; John ‘Hannibal’ Smith and Howling Mad Murdock of the A-Team. Now there are some guys who are either nuts or brilliant (or both). Hannibal’s signature line (‘…I love it when a plan comes together.’) sums up their attitude which is sooo cool and is much like Captain Jack Sparrows’. That attitude that laughs in the face of danger and adversity that never says die and that overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds. So then I thought ‘is this madness/brilliance a gift, or a skill, or both or is it just being crazy and lucky at the same time?’ I suppose some people do have a special gift for getting out of jams (Jack Sparrow?); others have great skill (Hannibal?). As for the crazy and lucky: it depends on what your goals are in trying something ‘crazy’ as to whether it is reckless or heroic. And I don’t believe in luck only providence.
So I think that this madness that is also brilliance (as opposed to just madness by itself) has more to do with courage, daring and (if you’re a Christian) trust in God than skill or ‘genius’ or whatever.
Think about all those gifted, skilled, intelligent or otherwise brilliant people throughout history who never attempted anything because they kept thinking what if such and such happens. They may have lots of skill in whatever area but they didn’t dare to do.
They didn’t dare to do because whatever the task was it would be considered stupid or madness to try. What is stupid or mad is of course a matter of perspective; after all God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.
Take David as an example. He had skill with his sling but everyone considered it madness to go against this giant Goliath.
But afterwards I bet he said like Hannibal Smith, ‘I love it when a plan comes together’; God’s plan that is.
That line of Hannibal’s is saying much the same thing as the proverb that says ‘the plans of the mind belong to man but GOD directs the steps.’ That’s why we need to pray for the courage and daring to do ‘crazy mad’ things for God and then be amazed at God’s brilliance ‘…when the plan comes together.’