Monday, May 28, 2007

Love, the Soul of Genius

"Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius." -- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I love this quote. (I must be a genius!) Actually, I thought determining genius had to do with measuring IQ. Albert Einstein was obviously a genius, not a musical one perhaps, though he played violin, but an intellectual one. Then I thought genius came in seven flavors as described by multiple intelligences. Michael Jordan is a genius of bodily-kinesthetic nature.

A genius who performs extraordinarily well is an amazing thing. I am bewildered and dazzled! But experience tells me that real genius, as Mozart suggests, comes from the choice to love, that genius has a soul. I cannot choose the gift of intellect or bodily-kinesthetic ability or one of the other multiple intelligences, but I can choose the gift of love. Perhaps, I can choose to be a genius.

Dr. Theodore Kaczynski will be remembered most as the Unabomber. But he was highly intelligent in complex branches of mathematics and made significant contributions through his work. Was this man intelligent? Yes. Was he mentally and/or emotionally damaged? Probably. Did he love, deeply and compassionately? I don't think so. At least I see no evidence of this. In my opinion, he was not a genius because his genius had no soul.

My mother often said to me, "You're a genius and a lovely person." Unfortunately, it was not expressed in a loving way. It was more cliché than meaningful. I came to despise that remark and regretted its use on me. It wasn't until much later that I could even think that those words could ever genuinely apply to me. Hence, true genius only took on significance when love was brought into the equation.

For example, I learned to play piano late in life. I had wanted to play for a long time. I loved classical music, especially symphonic sonatas and piano concerti. I especially adored Mozart's compositions. (I watched a lot of Bugs Bunny as a kid! Classical music was always in the background and sometimes the theme of a strip.) My piano teacher was amazed at how quickly I picked it up. However, I knew it was not just the practice that mattered. Advancement was limited with mere practice. What bolstered my playing was when I practiced while I was filled with love for the music. To be filled with love for music was a conscious choice. I don't claim to be a musical genius, far from it (bewilder or dazzle don't enter the vocabulary), but I do know it makes all the difference. Perhaps musical genius is possibility for me. From this experience I understood what Mozart meant.

This applies to life in general, I think. One can live a life of genius by choosing a life with soul. And the soul of genius is love. It matters little what you're doing so long as you're doing it with love. M. Scott Peck, MD, described love as "The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." So, if you don't see yourself as a genius yet, you can be.

What do you think of the quote from Mozart? What do you think of the quote from M. Scott Peck, MD? Did you ever consider yourself a 'genius' in any way, or even think the term could apply to you? What are you really good at, that you love to do, that you take for granted? Why do you think or feel is this not genius if you said 'no' to the previous question? Do you ever wish you could be a genius in something? Do you wish you could love more deeply and compassionately but feel 'stuck'? What is your first impression when you hear the word 'genius'? Did you ever associate the word 'genius' with the word 'love'?
Please leave your comments. Expressing your views is refreshing to all who read them, including yourself. Thanks.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Affluenza Strikes Again

What do you call an illness of the mind and heart to endlessly chase material goods in the pursuit of happiness? Think 'affluence' + 'influenza' = 'affluenza'. Based on a PBS documentary, there is a book that explains what this is all about. On the back cover jacket of the book, the authors give a pseudo-dictionary definition.

affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. (Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic; John D Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H. Naylor; Berrett Koehler; San Fransisco; 2001)

The problem is that affluenza is easier to detect as a condition of a society or large group, but it is difficult to diagnose ourselves. I think a large part of that difficulty is because we don't want to look at ourselves, especially in that way. But even if we successfully divert attention away from ourselves as we point to the society in which we live as suffering from affluenza, we have to admit that we live in that society. I know I've said to myself and my friends that I want to "simplify my life." But what does that really mean? What have I actually accomplished to reverse this condition creeping over me? Honestly? I've gotten real good at creating a diversion. (Think I could be President someday?)

How about you? Do you think you suffer from some degree of this condition? On the other hand, do you think 'affluenza' does not apply to you? Why not? Have you told yourself or others that you want to simplify your life? How successful have you actually been? If you were successful, what did you have to do? How did you have to change your attitude and habits? If you were not successful, how honest are you being with yourself about it?

As always, I look forward to your comments. Feel free to comment on previous posts, too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beginning Unstuck

One person said in a comment that the name sounded like a website for geriatrics. But they were delightfully surprised (my words) that it wasn't. It's called "The Center for Improved Living."

Each day, a simple statement is made or a simple question is asked, yet it's always unexpected and makes me think, even if just a little. Today's question was, "What's the best thing that happened to you in the last two days?" I commented that I had started this blog.

I appreciate the blog, mostly the author, Marc Horowitz (who's main blog is "I Need to Stop Soon," which is a little strange for my tastes), because, to me, it's original and creative. If I omitted the names of other contributors to 'The Center', please forgive me. Perhaps leave a comment to let everyone know.

Mostly, I appreciate its simplicity and its success at getting me to start my day unstuck. Instead of thinking of all the usual routine things I must (or at least should) accomplish, I can think of something entirely different and get my creative juices flowing. For one, I'm more productive when I'm creative, and not feeling overwhelmed before I start anything. For another, it gets me writing my thoughts, rather than trying to think of something to write. By the way, whoever coined the term: 'creative juices'? Why not 'spontaneous sparks of wonder'? Too long?

Do you have a morning routine that helps you start the day with a brighter or more creative outlook? Do you write, exercise, read, meditate, plan your day, kiss the kitty, wake up earlier than others in your family, or hit th snooze button for an hour? What gets your creative juices flowing? Or do you feel this flow has mostly dried up for you? When do your creative juices flow the least inhibited? What happens when they do?

As always, I welcome your comments to any or all of these questions.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Voice Dialog

I never heard of Voice Dialog until a few weeks ago. I've heard of dissociation and multiple personalities, each with their own voice, but those are disorders usually resulting from extreme emotional and/or physical trauma. (An amazing true story along these lines is "When Rabbit Howls" by Truddi Chase.)

Voice Dialog, as it was explained to me, is a therapeutic technique that recognizes distinct parts in all of us and gives a voice to each of those parts. A distinction in disorders is the accompanying memory loss that occurs between personalities. We have these parts normally, and we remember them.

For example, I have a confident side of me that is out in front most of the time. But certain situations cause a more insecure part of me to come out, such as being in the midst of large crowds of unknown people. Instead of trying to 'fix' the insecure part, or worse, ignore it, I give it a voice. That is, I can accept it and let it speak. The dialog may start something like this:

"So, how did you feel today when you were waiting for your friends at the stadium?"

"I felt 'antsy'. I kept wondering what I should do. Should I sit, stand, buy something, walk in circles, pretend like I see someone I know in the distance? I was afraid of being perceived as a loner. I almost wanted to go back to my car, wait a few minutes, then come back in again, hoping they would be waiting for me. My mind was also racing with ideas of possible causes for their tardiness. That was ridiculous because they were hardly 'tardy', maybe 5 or 10 minutes."

That is only a start, but I hope you get the idea. Ultimately, I may want to learn to acknowledge this part of me, even embrace and love it, in order to help me to be and feel whole in that situation. Please share.

Have you ever engaged in any kind of Voice Dialog even if you called it something else or never gave it a name? What comes to mind when you hear the word 'therapy'? In your opinion, when and what kind of therapy is applicable for whom, if at all? What should be the goal of therapy?

I look forward to your comments regarding any of these questions or your own experiences.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Purpose of This Blog

I have a copy of Leo Tolstoy's "A Calendar of Wisdom" translated from Russian by Peter Sekirin. Leo Tolstoy made a collection of sayings that elevated his spirit when he created it, as well as when he read it over and over. The book has an acclamation by Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of "Simple Abundance," who used words like 'profound' and 'passionate' to describe this work. One aspect that stands out among all others is that it is deeply personal.

I would like to follow suit. The entries in this blog may not all be original. But I don't think the experience is as effective unless the words and phrases are held as deeply personal. I will share with you some of my thoughts, dreams, sayings, etc, and invite you to do the same thing. I have no agenda. It enhances my life to write. (See Julia Cameron's book, "The Right to Write.") However, if you share your thoughts, we may greatly benefit from each other's insight. After all, relationships are the synapses of life, and we can choose to enhance our experiences together.

What is one of your favorite devotionals and why?

Here are the referenced books from Amazon. I included a men's version of Simple Abundance.