What makes men of genius, or rather, what they make, is not new ideas, it is that idea – possessing them – that what has been said has still not been said enough.

~Eugene Delacroix

Society expresses its sympathy for the geniuses of the past to distract attention from the fact that it has no intention of being sympathetic to the geniuses of the present.

~Celia Green

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

~Wolfgang A. Mozart

At our Ceili on Saturday night we were addressed by Dave Pellett, a man dealing with his own mortality and a significant brain tumour. Dave has been the sound man since the inception of our local Ceili over four years ago. He is also a skilled musician, playing and teaching flute and recorder. He can do none of this anymore. He has lost a lot of weight, appears fragile and walks slowly and deliberately with aid of a cane. When he spoke emotion and the shattered pathways in his brain led to sizeable gaps between each sentence. The words were uttered in a croaking, rasping manner, like a man on his last breath. But the phrases Dave managed to share were touching and meaningful. I trust I do them justice below:

“When Jax and I decided to leave Auckland [they’d led full lives, raised families and found each other relatively recently] we travelled all over the country in search of a community that would suit our needs. We wandered as far as the west coast of the South Island and Coromandel on the North Island. Our two principal criteria—no traffic lights and the reactions of the strangers we approached. For too long we’d experienced the sometimes unfriendly anonymity of the city. We sought the informal charm of old rural New Zealand. When we arrived in Mangonui in the Far North one experience told us we had found that which we sought. Two cars were passing and stopped; the drivers knew each other. As they caught up on news, traffic backed up in both directions. No one showed the least bit of impatience. No horns were honked. Clearly, these people realised time was to be used, not burned away in busy-ness.

“Community is never more important than when an experience such as I’ve had forces you to receive help. Jax and I are extremely grateful for the love and practical support we’ve received. I don’t wish this experience on any of you. Value this community while you have your health.

“Finally, if there’s anything you’ve been putting off that you’ve always wanted to do, don’t wait. Do it. You never know when your card will be drawn.”

Dave spoke with me during supper afterwards. He mentioned one of the unexpected gifts his experience had created. Their two families, children, their spouses and grandchildren, had been brought close together, closer than they’d ever have ventured under ordinary circumstances. Adversity has its rewards if one is prepared to acknowledge them.

Wendy, the drummer in the band and the MC on the night, mentioned one quote she had read that reminded her of Dave. It was attributed to Blake and I paraphrase it below:

The straight road leads to success. The crooked road to genius.

Mark Twain once said that thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered – either by themselves or by others. I would agree with Wendy. Dave is one such genius. He thinks and lives outside the box. I am grateful he’s been part of my life.


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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

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