Renaissance Dad: Everybody is a Genius

Renaissance Dad: Everybody is a Genius

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” -Albert Einstein

This is one of my all-time favorite quotes. One that I wish I’d heard earlier in life, but it’s no less true today than it would have been in my childhood.

My own little Einstein. Photo by the author.

I know it’s true, because I was a fish who thought he was just stupid.

Back when attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was defined as, “Doesn’t live up to his potential” (a term I still despise 35 years later) and the accepted treatment was detention, I wandered through the halls of various academic institutions vaguely aware that everyone else seemed to speak a language I didn’t understand.

If someone had told me that I thought outside the box (a phrase which wouldn’t be coined for a number of years), my probable response would have been: “Wait . . . there’s a box?”

It turns out that I didn’t need to focus.

I didn’t need more discipline.

I just needed someone to understand that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t need to know how to climb a tree, because climbing trees wasn’t what I was meant to do.

To read the rest of this article, pick up a copy of the January 2020 issue at any of these locations, or view the digital archive copy below.

Click here for facts and fiction about Einstein’s childhood and early academic life.

Perry P. Perkins is a third-generation chef, award-winning writer, and culinary instructor. He lives with his family in Longview, and operates the MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, for at-risk and under-served youth. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including sixteen “Chicken Soup for the Soul” anthologies. He is also a reoccurring guest-chef on AM Northwest. More of Perry’s work can be found on Amazon at, and his cooking blog at

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