This might sound redundant, but anything or any person that is unique in our lives, is something or someone special. A phenomenon that stands out because of its sensory features or its behavior. A phenomenon that stands out because of the way it is defined or the way it coheres together. Most of us are attracted to things that have unique positive traits: a special work of art or piece of handicraft, a special hand-made piece of furniture, a book with a unique story or a unique point of view, a special out-of-the-way restaurant, a special beach resort. By the same token, we are attracted to people who have unique positive traits. Perhaps someone with a special skill like playing a sport unusually well, or being a gifted musician. Perhaps someone who is a brilliant intellectual or someone who is charismatic as a result of excellent social skills.
Unique literally means one of a kind, but how literally we decide to extend its application can vary greatly. An artist like Monet was one of a group of artists: the French Impressionists. But we can still say he had a unique talent, distinct from the other Impressionists, with a somewhat unique artistic point of view. Sports figures like Michael Jordan are certainly unique for their times, but no one can say for certain that another exceptionally talented basketball player won’t come along and replace him in people’s imagination. Some would say LeBron James has already done that.
When I was living in Mexico, I delighted in looking for craft items that did not fit easily into established categories. Yes, it was nice to have a tree of life either from Metepec, State of Mexico or Izucar de Matamoros, Puebla, or else a carved wooden tray from Olinala, Guerrero. But how much more special it was to have a craft item that didn’t fit into any known craft category that, at least, I was familiar with. A craft item that was truly unique. Frequently, these were items that were kept on display in the backs of old craft stores or even on shelves or in drawers, because the owners of the stores didn’t think they could sell them, because they didn’t fit into the established categories and were like old relics. I got a beautiful carved wooden owl from Patzcuaro, Michoacan that way. I cherish it to this day.
But, obviously, not everybody thinks the same way I do, or else this owl wouldn’t have been in a drawer in the back of the store. Things that are that unique are not always so easily appreciated. Without something to compare it to easily, many people would simply not have felt grounded in any criteria to ascribe value to it. Most customers would have felt a lack of aesthetic grounding to properly appreciate it, and we can say that somehow the owl itself lacked aesthetic grounding in a category of handicraft objects that customers could apprehend.
An individual can be so unique in his positive qualities that, just like with my owl, other people can lack the criteria to properly appreciate him. Think of scientists like Galileo or philosophers like Spinoza. Both of them were shunned by others for their views. Both of them were condemned to float in an experiential vacuum, at least partly of their own doing. Or when Stravinsky debuted “The Rite of Spring” in Paris, it was widely criticized by both music critics and members of the audience.
With the passage of time, Galileo’s scientific ideas were praised as was Spinoza’s philosophy. And Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” was considered a masterpiece. People who have come up with extremely unique creative phenomena are frequently people who are going to make and preserve very strong organic imprints on the external world. They will feel very alive from these imprints and, at the same time, they will be making very strong contributions to their personal surrogate immortalities in preparation for death. But they will frequently pay the price of having very weak social grounding, which can create anxiety and depression and lead to psychological instability.
Unique talented people feel the need to activate their talents and make and preserve very strong organic imprints. It is what they are built to do. At the same time, like most other people, they feel a strong need for social grounding, for being with others who accept them and hopefully understand them, in spite of all that they do. So that they won’t feel isolated emotionally, intellectually, and, where applicable, aesthetically. Even uniquely talented people need to also receive positive organic imprints from others in order to feel alive. But these talented people aren’t going to receive the positive organic imprints from others, if other people find the talented people too inaccessible to be able to understand and apprehend very well. In other words, if the talented people seem to be too unique. So these gifted people have to somehow find a way of balancing these two very different needs: becoming a well-defined figure and having good grounding.
A uniquely talented person needs to have some good social grounding if he is going to psychologically survive. Living too much in himself leads to him destroying himself from too much numbness as a result of social detachment. Of course, not having enough alone time and privacy can lead to an undifferentiation of a genius’s persona and a loss of his capacity to leave strong unique organic imprints. These conflicting needs are what make the lives of most geniuses extremely difficult. Being alone and unappreciated while producing great work, or being surrounded by admirers who subtly level him and his uniqueness. Sometimes there just are no easy answers in life.