In his biography of Einstein, Walter Issacson comes to the conclusion that powerful curiosity & intense discipline alloyed with stubborn non-conformism & deep humility were the the keys to Einstein’s work. These allowed him to break stride, seeking harmonies that others missed.
I get that, I really do. TBB thinks I have the disposition of an engineer like her, but I know that I really have the discipline of a theoretical physicist. After all, theoretical physicists are the theologians of science, looking for signs of God (or at least signs of the creator) in the spaces between. I remember when I proficiencied out of Physics 110 in college, and the physics department implored me to come and take classes with them, a tiny place at a teacher’s college.
You cannot be brilliant without also being naive, because to be brilliant is to see past the limits of what is, to see past what is called practical, and to see what is possible. Pragmatists are never brilliant, even if the brilliant are sometimes pragmatic.
My secret quest has been to compile a unified field theory of trans behaviour. This has required me to not just try to fit every tranny narrative into my own rationalizations, but rather to let every narrative shape my own understanding, to make sure that my ideas fit the narratives, not that the narratives fit my ideas.
It’s been a good quest, and one I think has been valuable, though I am always surprised when someone wonders why more people don’t engage my work. It’s not easy stuff to see yourself in the mirror naked, especially when all you want is for someone to agree and parrot your own justifications.
But this whole stubborn non-conformism & deep humility thing is a knife that cuts two ways. If you know you can’t be concerned with people liking you, but rather in following your own heart, it’s easy to accept that they don’t like you. And if you have the humility to live in the questions rather than the answers, then you approach everything with doubt & curiosity, wanting to learn rather than to teach.
It’s lonely, sure, but it’s not much different than the lives of many other theoretical physicists.