Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Encounter with genius

I just spoke with a genius, or listened to one, rather. He is a polyglot, knows about 7 languages, plays violin, is a mathematician, a pharmacologist, on and on. He wants to learn Russian because he will travel there and 'doesn't want to go to a country not speaking the language'. He is brilliant and interesting. Yet, walking away I have a knot in my stomach. Part of this is me. I take every opportunity to compare myself to people and come up short. And in this case it is especially easy to see my shortcomings, my failures, gray and moldy next to his shimmering accomplishments. He was describing the private tutor who taught him English in Chile and the wonderful technique she used. Well, at 10 I was struggling with my family's poverty and my father's violence. There were no foreign language tutors for me. I remember begging my mother for "The How and Why Book of the Human Body" from the magazine rack of the grocery store. It was about $2.29 and it took a few weeks of begging until I got it. But you know, these sound like excuses and bitterness. These kinds of thoughts don't help remove the knot. What I want more than anything else in my life is to feel ok being me. Ok knowing I am not the smartest person, or the most talented or the kindest or the most attractive person in the world. I so much want to accept myself as I am without excuses of my childhood to explain my shortcomings. I want to be able to speak with a genius and be able to appreciate the opportunity to learn from him/her without comparisons. I want to stand on solid ground with myself that will allow me to see the interaction as a gift not an insult.