A few days ago I featured one of the most accomplished, gifted yet controversial females of our times, Amy Winehouse. Today, I have yet another female who is accomplished, gifted yet controversial. The main difference between the two is, one is dead and the other is alive and reching out to the accomplishments, gifts and controversies of future.
Sabrina Gonsalez Pasterski, the 21 year old PhD student at Harvard, is going viral in the Physics World as the next Einstein of the field. She built an airplane of her own at the age of 14 and got herself accepted at her dream university MIT for undergraduation. She graduated with a perfect 5, highest score possible at the school, from there to move on to Harvard. At Harvard she has been awarded with academic “freedom to work without direct supervision on any topic of her choosing with anyone she wishes”.
As I read the quoted lines on her official statement of award of freedom on her personal website (Physics Girl); I was reminded of another young girl who yearned for a freedom of this kind.
Amy Winehouse, was a world renowned singer and songwriter, named as one of the greatest Jazz singers by Tony Bennet (a legendary Jazz veteran) and winner of 5 Grammy Awards all in her early 20s. And yet she succumbed to death before she could reach the end of her 20s.
Suffering from an addiction to some of the most dangerous psychedelics of our times, she managed to overcome all of them. But she was broken by a different kind of malaise, also one of the most dangerous of our times.
Depression. Which soon morphed into Bulimia in her young, fragile body when she tried to substitute alcohol for drugs. And one fine morning her heart silently gave up on her as it stopped beating, maybe while she was still in sleep. The curtain fell on another shining star of our skies.
There is an interesting link between these two women I see as Soul Sisters here. Which is the age at which they discovered who they wanted to be when they grew up – when they discovered the passion of their life. At age 5, both Amy and Sabrina were introduced to what would become the subject of their pursuit of their lives ahead. While Amy poured herself into Jazz, Sabrina flew into the realms of Outer Space.
They also share the age they took their first flights of Freedom. But there is a very subtle and yet the most central difference. Amy realised her freedom to be able to anything and everything she could think of after her father walked out on her mother. While, Sabrina took flew her first plane at the tender of age 9 with complete support of both her parents.
Whichever way the freedom came to both these young minds, they proved to be liberating for their Endeavours in life. This freedom to imagine anything and everything against the rules of the world around them, pushed them both to challenge the word Impossible.
Amy was creating Jazz music, the likes of which were unheard of in Pop culture at the time. She was a celebrity at 19. A role model for thousands of young heartbroken teens around the globe all before she could end her teens. Sabrina has written papers about discovering new ways to study the mysterious gravitational waves (the new mystery of Theoretical Physics) and was called the Einstein of the century by the same ‘Pop culture’; all before she could end her teens too.
But while Sabrina has not yet, at 22, had an alcoholic drink, a cigarette or a boyfriend; some would say Amy and her music were all about just these three things. Except, there was a lot of skill and talent in Amy that makes her music as acceptable to Jazz veterans as to young teenagers around the world.
There is no doubt of a shared Spark between the two women which propelled them to challenge the limits of the word Impossible. They drew solace from their passions when faced by limitations of the world. One stepped into a solitude with her guitar to write songs and the other with her equations to write scientific papers. One to what Pop culture calls Art and the other to what it titulates Science.
We only know about the future of one of these two wonderful women. And it is not exactly likable. It is ugly infact. Drugs and addictions excalated Amy’s life for her. She practically ran a sprint to her grave while leaving behind star dust of her music for a very short period of time.
But pausing and reflecting back at their lives when they were both 21, there is an absence of drugs and alcohol in one of them and pivotal presence in the other. I am forced to contemplate of a future for Amy Winehouse had she too been the one without drugs, alcohol or heartbreaks at such a young age.
What if she had not fast forwarded her life into a short 27 year old trailer? What if she would have slowed down, to match the slow pace of life itself? What if she had ran the marathon and left behind a trail blaze for those behind her? What if she had not burnt out so quickly, drawn in so many breaths as she smoked all her weed and complete her share of breaths so soon? What if?
Most importantly why such a quick burn out? Is there a clue in the key difference between these two gifted women – the absence of drugs and heartbreaks? What was the sudden change in the face of young Amy before and after she turned 9? Was it anger at her father for breaking her first dream of love in her life – the relationship of her parents? Why did the ‘bitch-face’ she was known for disappear when she sang her seranades of Love and why did they return with a glass of alcohol? What was that anger for, why the need to escape life as it was?
The stone mountain cannot stop you from going ahead in your paths. It is the stone pebble in your shoe that can hurt you enough to not be able to climb that mountain.
The difference between these two womem who wished to climb the mountains of Impossible was that Amy held her tiny pebble in her shoe very dearly. She never paused to bend down and take it out of her shoe. She went on to bleed quietly and one day simply give up. While the story of Sabrina is yet to unfold completely and very little is known of her personal life, her journey seems ro promise absence of any such pebbles leaving her truly free to climb as many Impossibles as she wishes to.
(Cover Image courtesy : ArtStation)