The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, May 28, 2007

Albert Einstein on gifted isolation.

The more gifted a child is, the more alone they tend to be.

This is not the product of a deficit, in them, generally, but a deficiency in others: the willingness to accept one of difference, in their midst. The more superior one's mind, to those around, the less likely one is to find sufficient common ground to build a solid friendship, of any kind, unless the gifted child (or gifted adult) ventures to be inauthentic and pretends to be other than they are, simply to win acceptance. Either path is a lost cause - for neither really wins true acceptance.

There is much that I can say on this, but I will keep this post brief and end it with Albert Einstein's observation on the gifted condition, as it applied to his rather special circumstance:

"It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely." They are among the saddest words a genius has ever spoken (second I would think, though, to Leonardo Da Vinci's last words, referred to in another post).

Einstein lived a significant portion of his life as a world famous man. He was instantly recognizable everywhere he went. There was no escaping the recognition in others' eyes: it was universal. Yet, he protested, in this frank comment, that the whole experience had done nothing to assuage his loneliness. He was still a solitary figure by most standards. He still stood alone in the social world, much as he had, at one time, in the intellectual world. What was it that made him so alone? Ironically, the very gift that had made him so famous, made him so different from others that he could not meet his match: there were too few people with whom he could really have any worthwhile engagement, for long.

To some degree, this is the fate of all who are most gifted - if their gifts are enough to set them truly apart. Even the best of social skills can only create a range of friendships that fail to satisfy the deepest needs of the most gifted - for they cannot, in truth, find a match for themselves in them. They must satisfy themselves with the shallows of life and the depths of their work.

I am not sure if there is any satisfactory way around this phenomenon. Perhaps, the most gifted should accept the situation for what it is, and find most fulfilment in their work. Oddly enough, that is exactly what most geniuses do. It seems they knew what to do all along.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:35 PM 


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