In the stark desert of my old Southern California eco farm, there were lush plants with fist-sized white trumpet flowers growing wild all summer.
Even during the heavy drought, these plants were one of the few things that remained green in an environment of harsh winds, scarce rain, and brutal heat. Their graceful flowers truly defied the reality around them.
One would think such beauty and resilience would be highly valued by anyone who laid eyes upon them, but surprisingly this plant is largely ignored. It’s just another weed growing by the roadside.
As someone who values sustainability, beautiful landscapes, and low water usage, I was struck by these flowers not only for their beauty but also their wild genius.
It takes true genius to adapt and thrive in a desert without irrigation.
As I explored the wilderness around my farm further, I learned there are actually many useful plant species growing wild out here. Relatively unknown, these wild plants are abundant and nutritious food sources that require no irrigation to grow under the Southern California sun. Many generations ago, Native American cultures held these plants in high regard for healing, visioning, sustenance, and more. Today they may be overlooked, but they could have a big impact if we made use of their unique qualities.
Why are we so blind to such gifts? If we can’t see the gems around us, how can we ever see the ones we hold inside?
We are like these wild geniuses—lights in the world, inherently programmed for valuable contributions and important resources for our communities. Perhaps we only look for what we know, for what we are used to seeing. I wonder how often geniuses die in the face of normalcy. How many of us hold special perspectives, abilities, and talents that go unnoticed because our modern society, or even our immediate families, do not register our gifts as valuable, useful, or normal?
As a young woman growing up, there were many things about me that were not considered ladylike or feminine by my community and my family. I completely discounted my potential due to the dismissal of those around me, based strictly on my womanhood. It took years and years for me to finally awaken to my own wild genius.
This blossoming happened when I stopped caring about what anyone thought of me. I started following my instincts, desires, and inspirations. This led me to build my own tiny home and discover a love of construction that I was taught was reserved for men. I have always been an artist of different sorts, but never considered that power tools and physical labor could be used to express my artistic instincts on a larger scale, or more profoundly, to create my own soulful living space.
Because I was able to look outside of what I was conditioned to and learn building skills, I am now capable of challenging many of our modern building practices that are toxic, unsustainable, and do not honor nature. I can now apply my feminine perspective and build my own world with it.
We are conditioned not to claim and follow our wild genius. If we look at the bigger picture, we can see how fleeting cultural trends truly are—how vast the diversity of culture in the world is, and how new discoveries are constantly being presented. What is considered normal at any given point in time often excludes information and personal gifts that are beyond the framework of the current norm.
Many geniuses break through in spite of all this, but how many are lost? How many stay quiet, or even unaware of their own brilliance—brilliance that the world needs?
If we trained ourselves as a society to look for human wildflowers, how many geniuses would we cultivate? If we valued diversity, celebrated differences, invited the unknown, and turned our new normal into constant mental, spiritual, and emotional expansion, what would we become? How many more lights would illuminate the world?
So now I ask: how do we cultivate our own forgotten genius when it has been ignored for a lifetime?
I believe nature’s desert wildflowers hold the clue. We must notice the beauty and the fun existing around us. It is up to us to champion our findings. Hold them dear, stand by them in the face of judgment, neglect, or disregard. Live just like a small child who has her own unfettered soul so share. Allow, own, and express.
We are all aware of how damaging judgment, perfectionism, and fear of failure are to exploration. Explore still. Express still.
Years ago, I was forbidden to use power tools while renting a room on a ranch because the owner thought I would hurt myself and sue him. Fortunately, my desire to build an eco chicken coop was stronger than my lack of experience, or his lack of confidence in me. I plowed ahead and built everything by hand, teaching myself to use a skill saw and other power tools. I get a good laugh about it now, because I currently build much bigger structures professionally.
When we will our wild genius to live, we can survive even the harshest environments. We cannot escape other people’s judgments or often even our own, but we can catch it, shake off the shame, and keep going. We can stand in our fear and let ourselves tremble, but express our truth anyway. We can even feel the limits of perfectionism, soul crushing judgments, and choking “shoulds,” and then keep creating.
Like a flower expanding its petals toward, the sun, we are meant to blossom and share our wild beauty.
The world needs our wild genius, now more than ever.
Author: Sarah H. Brown
Editor: Danielle Beutell