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Genius is an interesting thing, really. It’s pretty much the willingness to do more than anyone else in a particular direction. I watched Jackie Chan last night in the mostly forgettable movie Forbidden Kingdom (I’ll remember Jet Li and the scenery and that’s about all). The things he can do with his body just blow me away. The way he falls off a horse, for example, has a fluidity that nothing so clumsy should ever have. He seems to have made a deal with gravity: he won’t punch gravity senseless and sometimes gravity will give him a break. And, no, I’m not talking about the times when the magic wires make him fly.

For the privilege, he gets hit in the face with tables, smacked with sticks gone wrong, bruised in more places than I can name. He climbs like a miracle cat, leaps like a kangaroo, and kicks like a donkey. He has finished films after breaking bones, the cast painted to look like a shoe.

The artists of the renaissance, who secretly dissected cadavers to figure out how the body goes together to paint it better: geniuses. Piano prodigies who practice scales by the hour. The chefs who make cassoulet, God bless them. The parents who get their children fed and clean and off to school with all their things.

I have spent a long time trying to root out my competitive spirit, for very good reasons. But from time to time I need to stop and ask myself what I am willing to do to be brilliant and whether that is enough.



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June 2012
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