Zia Hassan

What I Mean When I Say Brilliant

In my Twitter profile, my bio line is “noticing brilliance since ’85.”

People use this word as slang sometimes to mean “cool” or “smart” or “interesting.” My understanding of the word is a bit more specific and aligned to the literal definition of the word.

To be brilliant is to emit light, to be bright, or to be radiant. There are so many things that I would classify as brilliant that may not seem particularly “smart.”

When I wake up at my in-laws’ condo, they are usually up making an incredible smelling breakfast. I can smell the coffee from the bedroom and the general warmth from the entire experience is palpable. Brilliant.

The kindness I see from the kids I work with, the random acts just because. There’s a brightness to this, a light that emanates beyond the circumstances. Brilliant.

The conversations I have with friends and family, the ones that hit me with a sudden epiphany, or a new way of thinking about an old problem. There’s a reason they call these “light bulb moments.” Brilliant.

I have this song and the lyrics are “the stars will die after you and I, oh but love is brilliant.” The stars are the most well lit objects eyes can see, and still, it’s the love and legacy and insight that people leave behind that I find to be even more brilliant than any celestial body in the sky.