This morning, I woke up terrified.

I had had a bad dream, one of those vivid ones that so impresses itself upon your mind that they are impossible to forget. Usually, for me, they have to do with some sort of tragedy that affects and injures me directly; I become paralyzed, people in my family are tortured and killed, or other such personal tribulations.

Last night, however, I had a nightmare of philosophy, of an abstract idea, and it chilled me to the bone.

It might seem at first blush that my dream was more similar to nightmares of personal pain, for I dreamt that a friend of mine from high school had died in a freak car accident. And while it is true that this concept scared and saddened me, what I found more affecting, and what my brain decided to focus on as I slept, was the idea that with her death, the world had lost an artistic genius.

I was forced by my dream to reflect upon the idea that I had directly experienced and been touched by the sort of person whose talent and work are truly exceptional. I had seen and talked and hugged and laughed and argued with a person whose ability is so great and yet seems so natural that it can make others certain of the existence of god, for it seems inconceivable to some that a person could have been the driving force behind what they had done.

Just as I felt honored and excited by the idea that I had been exposed to someone so rare and so precious, my brain brought me crashing back into pain and sorrow by reminding me that genius is just as fragile, if not more so, than the mediocre.

I woke up wishing that I didn’t have to live in a world where those who are of greater mind than I can perish, where with a single accident or poor choice the world loses not only a life that is precious in and of itself, but also a cornucopia of potential works of genius.

My brain showed me the nightmare image of a body, and every potential work of genius that it could create, being consumed by flame.

It’s an idea that will haunt me to my last.