Wanna be a genius?

The things we know and believe have origins beyond our brainpower as measured by natural intelligence (IQ), or those things we have learned through education, experience, indoctrination, and socialization. Alternative vectors of knowledge include sources beyond our brains—beyond what is between our ears and within our skulls. Our bodies below the neck are constantly assessing the world too; their sensory receptors never shut off and have knowledge to offer (if we listen). Objects, both alive like flora and fauna and inanimate like books and computers and art— collectively our surroundings—are significant actors in the stimulation and acquisition of knowledge. And, of course, other humans we choose to associate with are reservoirs of knowledge to draw upon; often referred to as a “brain trust.” Then, we have knowledge built into our DNA—inherited knowledge (also known as ancestral memory) that is believed to be coded into our genes. Finally, our divine knowledge that resides in our soul where eternal wisdom has been carried for millennia (tapping into this vector requires diligent ego suppression).

Humans have an extraordinary capacity to know. It is a key differentiator between ourselves and other mammals. How we know what we know—epistemology—continues to explore these frontiers that may be as vast as the universe itself. Metaphysics suggests all we must do is to be open-minded, open-spirited, and consider the possibilities beyond what scientific method allows. We must drop the filters and guardrails that limit our knowledge to expand our awareness and, therefore, extend our minds.

It has happened to each of us throughout our lives. We have all had unexplained knowings. We often describe these events as the result of a hunch, or our intuition, or simply a lucky choice. But, was it? New research suggests those things ascribed to intuition are actually knowledge sourced from heretofore unrecognized vectors like those described above.[1] It turns out, we are all geniuses, or can be once we unlock ourselves and tune into our world in a much more open, loving, and grateful manner. Like the humans our ancestors hoped we would be.

Eastern philosophy calls this practice open awareness, or mindfulness, where our receivers are on full-power reception unencumbered by what has been or might be; where the only moment that matters is this one—the present. Once we realize this is the path to genius (full knowing), and ultimately transcendence that assures both inner peace and tranquility throughout the world, we might actually decide to change the manner in which we pursue life. (Note: you have just been handed the Holy Grail to assure the survival of Homo Sapiens.)

Contemplative practice combined with routine meditation are the fundamentals of the pursuit of full knowing. A quiet mind, warm heart, and a carefully balanced ego and soul are principal characteristics of the full knowing. Curiosity is their best friend. They don’t speak as much as they listen (with all of their senses) because speaking is a form of projection that requires the suspension of awareness that might compromise their knowing. They share their knowledge with appropriate discernment.  They are neither stingy nor generous; balance is wisdom. Neither are they conspicuous, they prefer anonymity to spectacle. You won’t find them on any red carpet. Often described by others as loners, ironically, they actually hold the keys to human flourishing. They are neither beautiful nor ugly, rich nor poor, powerful nor marginalized. They possess the curious capability to exhibit both solemnity and cheerfulness. They embody grace.

Now, please indulge me as I get personal. Or, if you prefer, click delete now.

In January 2022, in a meditative-ritual state, my “rite of passage cards” (pictured above) were revealed to me. The following October, I was diagnosed with very aggressive cancer, what is called a “high grade tumor”; cells that were likely triggered by the excruciating stress of the prior two years due to my now ex-wife destroying our twenty-year marriage and combined family. Please don’t feel sorry for me. Eventually, I came to embrace the challenge as one of moving from devastation to liberation. In hindsight, it has been a blessing. There is no way I would be where I am today without these events. There is no way I would have learned about full knowing or had come to terms with my own path to what I call “sweet peace.”

In February 2023, I went through a complicated six-hour surgery to rid me of cancer. They thought they “got it all,” but today, my cancer has achieved what they clinically call “biological recurrence” (unfortunate but not unexpected). Tomorrow, I begin seven weeks of daily radiation treatment. And while the doctors have suggested I also receive months/years more of various chemical treatments that carry significant and debilitating effects, I have decided to forego them in favor of retaining my life as it is for as long as it lasts. As I have shared with my doctors, I can handle the dying part, it’s the suffering I want to avoid. Besides, I have had one hell of a good life. Hopefully, with many more years to come.

My seven rite of passage cards describe my life’s journey. Although I was the fourth of four children in a lively and supportive home growing up, as the only boy I learned to embrace being alone. With three older sisters in the house, I spent most of my time outdoors in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.  I withdrew into the woods out of necessity; I had yet to read Thoreau’s Walden to realize it was a soul-building experience. Nature became both my teacher and my source of comfort. My mother would stand on the deck of our house and ring a cowbell when it was time for me to come home for dinner. Yes, I was often wet and cold, but I don’t recall suffering from that. The canopy of trees—mostly bigleaf maples and Douglas firs—engulfed and swaddled me.

Allow me to explain the cards. I love learning and continue to intellectualize everything (card #1). The relationship between myself and Nature, represented here by fly fishing, is depicted in card #2. I love mountains, always have. Being in the mountain—as one of them—living in stability, perseverance, and strength is card #3. Then, transcending the mountain with truth and serenity (the orb). I am above it, rising (card #4). Soaring from my younger self to old age—the journey of ascension—is card #5.  Card #6 is where everything begins to come together, what my spiritual guide described as “the gathering.” Finally, card #7, totally at peace. I made it: sweet peace.

My spiritual guide’s assessment in January 2022 was that I was already there. That my only remaining challenge was to give myself permission to be the person I already was—to surrender to it. (Remember, this was pre-diagnosis.) “Surrender” is a challenging word and concept for me. I was not raised to surrender to anything, but I am beginning to accept the wisdom of it. Both Stoicism and Buddhism support surrender. Stoics advocate accepting things as they are and focusing on our response to them—the only thing we can actually control. The Buddhist tradition suggests, what you resist persists. So, I am embracing surrender in as healthy and as positive a manner as I can. Who knows, perhaps surrender will be the key to my longevity. In any event, peace.

I also recognize there is an exquisite symmetry to my life. Largely alone as a kid, and now similarly alone as my fourth quarter of life is upon me. To be clear, I have many supporters who are cheering for me and are a phone call away from pitching in. I hope I am worthy of their support.

Now, go extend your minds! The future of humanity hangs in the balance.


[1] Annie Murphy Paul, The Extended Mind: the Power of Thinking Outside the Brain (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021).