And somehow, I managed---here's Bushrod on the left and Chris--head computer geek for Los Alamos Labratory (now retired)on the right. His expertise ranges far beyond computers, however, to politics, literature, love and what constitutes the good life. I had an hour or so to pick his brain. Note the everpresent note cards and pen in my pocket.
I've forgotten what he was explaining here--but when he speaks the whole room listens. I watched him moderate a roomful of philosophers with utmost kindness and effectiveness. How is it that some personalities get so polished in a single lifetime?
This is Jim--another Big Brain kind enough to have lunch with me. He began as an electrical engineer and expanded in several directions---Inventor of a new kind of building material (paper and concrete --house currently being lived in) ---took me to lunch in his self-built electric car---delivers erudite papers on arcane aspects of physics ---but most interesting to me is his (and others) project to re-invent----the church??--no that's not quite it---it's all the good things a church could deliver if it left off the doctrine and superstition and power structure to focus on creative connection and evolving values. Check it out for yourself: http://www.journeysantafe.org/
Now I will answer my title question--How to engage a big brain? ASK FASCINATING QUESTIONS. It's a skill worth developing---I have worked on it since that embarassing day in high school when a cute lady said hi to me and stuck around for more---I did not know how to carry a conversation forward and after an awkward silence she drifted away--opportunity lost.
OH COME BACK NOW, DIXIE SHASTINE--GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE--THIS TIME I WILL LET GO MY FEARS TO CHARM YOU WITH WINSOME CURIOSITY---HALF MY SENTENCES WILL END WITH QUESTION MARKS. WE WILL PART--BOTH AGLOW--FEELING UNDERSTOOD--APPRECIATED.
Jim in his shop--look at that complicated gizmo on his workbench.
Asking the right questions uncovered a surprising hobby--writing poetry--he shared some with me. Good stuff--direct--undefensive.
My third Big Brain interview--Bushrod--this one is years long and ongoing. We knew each other in New Orleans 20 plus years ago. Teacher, furniture maker, philosopher--lives in quiet solitude at the end of a road in a house built mostly by himself. His genius is to envision very large projects in a general way---- then in thousands of tiny steps---let the general vision become a specific reality. His house was 15 years in the unfolding--isn't done yet---has built a great shop--hot tub, sauna and his own electric car.
He lives at an effortless pace, building all the furniture and cabinetry in his house--a tiny bit at a time. After 15 years, he's almost ready to paint the exterior.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Big brains are inspirational people who have polished their intellect. They represent about 2 percent of the population. It is not the data in their heads (an encyclopedia has more) that sets them apart, but a curiosity that feeds on itself , drawing them ever deeper into the mystery of life---stimulating an urge to understand-- and parlay that understanding into contribution. To draw benefit from them, you need not impress them with your wisdom---only ask them fascinating questions. For a clearer picture of such individuals click here: http://mobilecodgers.blogspot.com/2008/03/characteristics-of-self-actualized_31.html