Sunday, July 29, 2007

Genius: more heart thoughts

A while back Tim Draayer at Live Your Best Life wrote a post on Finding Your Genius to be Outstanding. He wrote that he found his genius is in “writing, motivating and inspiring people.” However, his point was not to trumpet what a great guy he is, his point was that everybody possesses a genius, an area where their talent and their passion come together (paraphrased).

As I keep moving forward with my writing and looking for ways to put it to its best use I think about what he says about “standing out.” The phrase “standing out,” for me, calls up another voice from the past that says “it isn’t respectable to make a spectacle of your self.” Following on the heels of that voice is another touting that seeking worldly admiration is self-centered and selfish.

So I was feeling at cross purposes between my heart urging me to move out and write as well as I could learn how and my head telling me to not draw to much attention to myself. Really, how will I know how I am doing unless I get external feedback from those who are qualified to critique my work? Of course what is being critiqued matters, too. I think I have a spiritual message in general but I don’t write 3 point sermons. Actually I don’t often directly refer to God in much of my writing but a sensitive reader is aware of the presence. However, I have occasionally had people criticize my lack of the term God as every third word which I don’t find particularly useful.

I was still mulling all of this when I clicked a video link. It was a clip from Dan Dunn’s PaintJam video. I had no idea what to expect but I didn’t expect what flashed onto the screen. To say that Dan Dunn rocks would be an understatement. There is music, paint, motion, and joy; and there is creativity, and detail, and a passion for making this the best one yet. It is obvious that his genius is in blending entertainment and the creation of a work of art.

But, watching it I mentally went back in time about 40 years. I was sitting in a small town church where for a week a traveling revivalist had been giving a very dry sermon every night in a knock-off suit and patent leather shoes. After about an hour he transitioned into a “chalk board art and story” wrap up. Gradually everything changed the room, the audience, the atmosphere but mostly the revivalist. He moved into a storyteller instead of a lecturer mode. His voice changed from the terse shrill pulpit pounder to a conversation with equals.

What made the difference? I think his gift was art and he wanted to use it to serve God but it got relegated to an ancillary of the authorized service of preaching sermons. Every night he had to grind through an hour’s sermon so he could connect with his art. In a way it was tragic to watch the transformation because it highlighted that he was stuck in a rut and knew no way to get out.

In a lot of ways I, and probably lots of others like me, struggle to discover where and what our genius is. Sometimes, like the revivalist we get stuck between finding and acting on our gift - our genius - and conforming to social pressure to use it in accepted categories of "work."

Sometimes we start out by finding out what it is not. Maybe we would make better progress if we could fully appreciate that information for what it is, information about where to stop wasting our precious time, instead of continually trying to make something that is not our work, work. Maybe each of us should just start following the rest of the steps that lead in a different direction.

Edited on July 31


Gabrielle said...

If you think that Dan Dunn is need to check out the man that inspired Dan Dunn, the original performance artist, the rock god meets pablo picasso....MICHAEL ISRAEL.
Check him out at

He blows all the imitators, like Dan Dunn, out of the water....

G's Cottage said...

That is definitely wild. Thanks for sharing; and thanks for stopping by.