I’ve long been a buff for the concepts of science and technology but always considered myself (wrongly, I now believe) that I lacked the talent for the maths involved. I actually tell my kids when they are concerned about the difficulty of math that there was only one person for whom math ever came easy, and that was Isaac Newton. Everyone else struggles.
And it got me thinking about some of the brilliant people or otherwise accomplished people who ever lived. Isaac Newton is a great example – he was to my mind the greatest genius who ever lived and died an embittered virgin who maintained his fascination with the occult, searched for the Philosopher’s Stone, and generally maintained bitterness and feuds with other scientists.
Nobody has ever thought of Albert Einstein as a normal individual who could just kinda blend in with society.
Of particular note to me are astronauts. These are people who truly walked the walk, and a significant proportion of them were weird. Just plain weird. It seemed particularly prevalent among Apollo Lunar Module Pilots. Alan Bean (my personal favorite astronaut) had a legendary tenacious approach to solving problems that was matched by his quirkiness of never drinking, subsisting off of spaghetti, and retiring to become a painter.
Apollo 15 LMP Jim Irwin went from barely surviving amputed legs to performing the greatest Moon mission (Apollo 15), suffering a heart attack during the mission, returning to earth and spending the rest of his life searching for Noah’s Ark. Apollo 14 LMP Ed Mitchell conduct unauthorized experiments on ESP between the Moon and the Earth, returned to Earth and founded a center on paranormal studies, claimed alien interventions, and was perhaps the single greatest master of the Lunar Module systems of any person on earth.
The legendary Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 – he was nicknamed Dr. Rendezvous and was viewed as a truly bizarre person that other weird astronauts tried to avoid because he just thought on a wholly different level.
Let’s not get started on Story Musgrave.
How do we view these people? Consider someone like Jim Irwin. Had that man started off life on expeditions at Mt. Ararat the whole idea today would be, “They are letting that nutcase go walk on the Moon?” It turns out that despite his weirdness on the side, he was a brilliant pilot who worked on the YF-12 program.
I think that weirdness is something that comes with being driven and intelligent. Those who change things by nature think differently. The hard part is separating the kook from the person who is actually on to something.
Look past the kookiness and see where the weirdness comes from. That crazy uncle you have does, every now and then, have a good moment of insight. Learn to work within the weirdness of others to find out what it is they can teach you.
Are you a weirdo shooting for the Moon? That path has already been blazed for you..