In youth, all things come easy.
To find success early in life is both a blessing and a curse. The usual course is spent over a lifetime, slowly gathering steam and speed as a pinnacle is reached at the moment where ease and leisure is about to be expected and enjoyed. Struggling for years building a career that dovetails in both earnings and awards for a lifetime that has been spent in the singular pursuit of some goal. I believe that this happens, in some cases, or perhaps for the majority out in the world that trend towards popularity and notoriety with the thirst for limelight and praise.
But that’s not the cycle that I am talking about. What about for those that early on find fame, are recognized for greatness, discover some small secret of the universe, or create some great work of art, and then are left for the rest of their days trying to match or live up to that early plateau. The public or private eyes that are constantly scanning the horizon for those that excel, quickly lose focus and move on with the hopes of glimpsing some greater voyeuristic joy. The person left behind, after spending a few brief years in spotlight, is left once again in complete isolation, to their work and art.
Einstein completed his greatest work at the age of 26, with the publication of four major papers on the photoelectric effect, brownian motion, special relativity, and the equivalence of matter and energy. That was it, at the age of 26 he had accomplished everything that he is known the world over for, except for one distinction, the personality of the absent minded professor that the public likes to remember him as being. Albert spent each and every day beyond 1905 trying to top himself, trying to do something greater which of course he did, with the publication of his theory of General Relativity in 1915, ten years later.
My point, if you bear with me, is that perhaps when fame comes early, and then is usurped by others, that some of the best work can be accomplished. Albert may seem like a stretch, but he also went through a long period where only his peers understood what he was doing, what he was trying to say. The persona of the man with white hair, bushy mustache, and frumpy clothes, were things that the general world got, they were just an image, a funny caricature of who he actually was. It was something that was consumable, bite size, easy to understand.
My argument, is that perhaps it is better to suffer the early recognition, and then to spend the 40 years wandering in the desert, before once again being seen by the world. In those metaphorical wanderings (i.e. 40 years of Moses), all manner of maturity and self awareness occur, so that when it is time to create or find ones greatest work, one is prepared and ready for it. If the public becomes aware great, let the garlands fall from the skyscrapers, the parades be held. But if not, and a relative silence is found, that is good as well. The work will survive, thrive, and be recognized further down the road in the eyes of youth that can see, and aren’t blinded by the present.
Albert got it, especially as he walked along the shores of a lake, skipping stones across the surface, alone in his thoughts, secure in the giant glimpse that he had seen, for his mind alone, the whole of our motion.