Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Sunday musings…10/4/2020

Sunday musings…10/4/2020

1 2020’d. New term for something that was, or would have been wonderful, that was either destroyed or cancelled by the events of 2020. At the moment I am writing this Beth and I would have been dressing for an Anniversary dinner. 

In Paris. 

2 Tracker. Yup, I’m doing it again. Using a fitness tracker. Pretty much basic stuff at the moment. Pretty much because my fitness routine consists mainly of being dragged around at the other end of a leash by Sasha. In a “what the heck, why not?” kinda way I’m also sorta tracking my daily steps. When Sasha and I get together I am comfortably between 10 and 12,000.

To keep things in perspective: a 60 yo “Old Amish” male gets in between 14 and 18,000 without resorting to “walking”. 

3 Mixology. I love a good cocktail. Thankfully so does my wife, as do our children and their spouses. Beth’s sisters and their husbands have tastes that align pretty closely to ours; my siblings and their spouses favor wine, a spirit that has graced many (most?) of our dinner tables, at least our weekend dinner tables, since the early 1980’s. 

What I really love about cocktails, though, is the sense of adventure, of discovery, that can be a part of the experience. Finding a new cocktail, whether as the result of a purposeful search or happenstance, is much like stumbling upon buried treasure. For us it is also quite often an opportunity to experiment around the flavors contained in that discovery. Our most successful examples at Casa Blanco are the “Very Bad Decision”, a take on a Margarita, and the “Sideswiped”, our version of the classic Sidecar. 

At the moment I am playing around with a companion to “The Last Word”, a classic 1920’s creation that features gin. There’s a book in me about cocktails during the Pandemic with a working title “Drinking with John Starr” if I ever get off the schneid and start writing. I can see that effort bookended by “The Last Word” at the finish and something I’ll call “The First Shot” up front. 

I’ll let you know what I come up with. 

4 Genius. The brilliant, awkward, prickly version. Seems that particular sub-species is much more interesting, in fiction or real life, however maddening they might be. Whether a detective, doctor, lawyer, engineer/inventor or other sort in which a singular genius type of intellect might come in handy, it more often than not seems to be the case that a soaring intellectual gift comes wrapped in socially challenging packaging. Think Sherlock Holmes in comparison with, say, Harry Bosch (fictional characters chosen to spare the real life guilty). So much so that when you encounter a true genius who is normal, or at least relatively normal when interacting with their non-genius circle, it kinda stands out. 

Hardly prickly, the genius with whom I am closest is an around-the-bend rabid NFL fan. Just doesn’t fit the whole genius motif, and yet, there he is. 

Historically the non-genius world has most often given a wide berth to the prickly genius walking among us. And why not? My Dad’s cardiac surgeon (long deceased now) was a jerk. A complete a-hole. Yet his singular genius gave our family 30 bonus years with our patriarch. With the obvious exception of moral reprobates who apply their genius toward nefarious outcomes, or just as bad, the genius who mistakes that wide berth for a pass to abuse fellow travelers in any way, the world is eventually a better place for having even the most cranky and difficult geniuses come along. Indeed, in order to extend the lifespan of that benefit, we all come out for the better if something along the line of a “genius tender” in some way becomes attached to one of these “social disasters” waiting to happen. Stories abound of brilliant men and women who create new technology, find medical breakthroughs, or conjure heretofore unthinkable artistic beauty out of the same air that the rest of us just breath as we move along the glidepaths of life. And then they crash. 

But why? That fine line between genius and some sort of madness need not necessarily be crossed. What possesses them?

Why bring this up now? I’ve written before that I personally do not have the “genius gene”. No part of Mozart’s genetic magic lives within my chromosomes. Nor that of Watson or Crick, or even the remarkable French monk who came up with the recipes for green and yellow Chartreuse some 200+ years ago. No, rather than the “Mozart Gene” I was blessed with a kindlier, less envious version of the “Salieri Gene”. It is my singular gift to be able to identify true genius in another human, genius large or small, while almost instantaneously knowing that their genius was just beyond my reach. Similar to Salieri, who in many ways made Mozart financially secure, I find it quite easy to imagine how to capitalize on any number of genius-level discoveries and help them do so. Unlike Salieri, though, I would find no joy, no solace or respite, in the jealous destruction of a genius as Salieri was said to have ultimately done to Mozart. 

In our world today, indeed in circles very close to my closest circles, there have been geniuses, visionaries, who have shattered in spectacular fashion. Each incident seemed to me as altogether preventable. Even for the most difficult, the prickliest of geniuses. Why is this so? Or is it really so? Why does it seem as if so many of the most gifted among us have crashed and burned upon hills that are either too trivial to “die on” or so easily circumnavigated that it makes one wonder if the figurative self-immolation was somehow their desired outcome? Why do we not have more like Steve Jobs, who somehow find their way back, who return from whatever prompted them to self-destruct and once again grace us with the fruits of their genius?

Lots of questions. There’s no answer coming from these quarters I’m afraid. Like I said, the genius gene is in a deeper end of the gene pool than that into which I was born. I understand that which makes them prickly no better than what it is that allows them to discover stuff just before I start to even think about it. A couple of these folks are friendly acquaintances or friends of friends. Always just beyond any chance that I might have been either a Salieri or a tender, yet close enough to see both the detritus of the destruction and the collateral damage that ensued. What benefits, what joy might have come from their genius had they not crossed that line so completely that there was no coming back? 

Prickly or not, “saving” them can’t be as simple as having an NFL Red Zone subscription, can it? 

I’ll see you next week…

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