My sister was a brilliant lady. She was an explorer, author, and medical doctor. She supposed that every mind had near-equal capacity, and the differences were a result of the development of the pathways within our magnificent grey matter.
My brother is a highly intelligent man. He spends his life in computer code and in the intricacies of aircraft systems. He has many patents (I don’t keep up – probably close to thirty U.S. – over fifty international) He is not inventing light bulbs. He is inventing the components of the future of flight. We often talk. He is “different”. I believe, he longs to be understood.
My brother (right) with me at my mother’s home
I have a cousin who is autistic. He remembers what shirt I wore to Thanksgiving in 1986. He remembers what car I drove and what I said about it. I have difficulty remembering my address.
He is different as I am different. His memory is a large part of his conscience, as analysis is of mine. Are not either of these abilities significant and useful? Is one better than another? My sister would argue that the whole was comparable and that it was simply an issue of balance of application of the mind that sets one apart from another.
I published my first poem at eleven. I was an odd boy, reading the Iliad, and the Rubaiyat, studying chemistry and physics.
What I remember about youth was a feeling of isolation. I was happy in my basement with my experimentation. (I once received a kind rejection from a chemical supply company when I inquired to obtain a radioactive isotope for a basement experiment.)
If only they knew! That basement was blown up a few times before my interests broadened to more benign pursuits.
I recently read, again the first english translation of Einstein’s theory of relativity. It was written as he worked at the patent office. In it I see a glimpse of the man and his conscience.
I wonder about Albert. I imagine that his was a lonely existence. When you are considering the Universal Theory, there are few engaging conversations at parties. He had so little in common with the rest.
When no one understands you, is it a painful isolation. I wonder if we could have been friends, or if he would think me odd, too. I wondered if he longed for someone like him, one who could critique and question.
His contributions live on and his mathematics and his brilliant realizations will shape the thinking of man for hundreds of years. I hope that he was not too lonely.