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 +

Saturday, October 25, 2008

On living a life of significance.

I always listen to the words of "great men" and "great women", for what they say of the life they have led. Now, whether or not Vidal Sassoon could be considered "great", he is certainly successful and I remember what he once said of his life. He expressed regret into having gone into "hair" and wished he had done something else with his life.

I remembered his words, today, and they reminded me of how important it is to check whether the goals one sets for oneself are actually worthy of achievement, in the first place. Vidal Sassoon didn't think much, in the end, of his life work. He rather rued that he had chosen something as trivial as hair to build a life around. I have seen this kind of thinking in many successful people. They mature as they get older and realize that the goals they set themselves when younger were not really worth achieving: life is so much deeper than the choices they made.

So, if a life is to be lived well and worthily, the first thing to consider is what, ultimately, would make a meaningful life? Is the glittering path laid out for one by the society around, actually worth treading on? So many people lead lives that are externally successful - by which I mean that other people adjudge them successful (usually in material terms) - but do those lives actually have meaning? I would suggest that that question should be answered, first, before embarking on such a life. Otherwise, at the end of a long, successful career, one could end up like Vidal Sassoon, looking back on his life and thinking of how pointless it was and how he would rather have done something else.

A significant life has a different meaning for different people: for some it means to be socially connected, for others it means to be rich, for others still it means to be famous - for many it means to help others, for a few it means to create lasting works in either science or the arts. Whatever it is that is significant to you, and you alone, should be what life is built around. One should never live a life that is significant only to others (meaning that fulfils the common values of the society in which one lives) since, too often, those external values are not in alignment with one's core inner values. The values of modern societies often seem a little too shallow, a little too materialistic, to constitute a purposeful and meaningful life, for deeper people - or people who mature into deeper people as they get older (like Mr. Sassoon).

Only you know what is of value to you. I wish you luck in living a life that fulfils those values - irrespective of what society actually thinks of your goals. It only matters what you think of your goals.

Be significant!

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 3:18 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I really enjoy reading your posts on Singapore and about life. I choose to live outside Singapore for the very reasons you mentioned that are not right about Singapore. I spent almost 10 years outside Singapore and am now doing a postgrad at Oxbridge(the other one). Singapore did not provide me with the opportunity to grow. It is not materialism that I crave but a desire to live up to my potential. Stepping out of Singapore years ago was the best thing I did. Amazingly, there were many places that saw my potential and willing to provide opportunities.

Please continue to write on Singapore as I feel that Singaporeans must be aware of the things that are wrong and must recognise that the choices they make now on how society should be run, will have repercussions on future choices. Ironically, I care too much about Singapore. I feel Singaporeans seem entrapped by things they should not.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. I agree. To live a Singaporean it conventionally to completely overlook what a deeper life should be about. The Singaporean way is a shallow one and anyone who lives by it, can only be dissatisfied.

I am glad you have escaped.

Yes. Other countries see the potential in Ainan (and ourselves) that Singapore does not. It is quite funny really. The joke is on Singapore itself.

12:23 AM  

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