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, August 06, 2011

Missing the point of life.

What do these people have in common?: George Clooney, Hugh Grant, Jennifer Aniston, Ricky Gervais, Cameron Diaz, Winona Ryder, Eva Mendes, Jessica Biel, Helen Mirren, Margaret Cho, Jacqueline Bisset, Janeane Garofalo, Jay Leno, Kim Cattrall, Kylie Minogue, Lara Flynn Boyle, Opray Winfrey, Renee Zellwegger and Robbie Williams.
Have a think. What is the common trait?

You probably thought: “they are all “stars””. Well, yes…but that is not what I am reaching after. Each of the famous people named is child-less. They are not parents and except for one (Hugh Grant), have never expressed any interest in having a child. Hugh Grant began to mutter about fatherhood as a possibility at 49…but almost two years have passed and he has yet to do anything about it.

From my point of view, each of these famous people is missing the point of life. It is almost certain that none of them will have any children, in life. When they die, their uniqueness, such as it is, will die with them. None of the particular elements that went up to make their individual gifts will be passed on. They will be completely lost, as if they had never been (except for media records). In a very real sense, these people, at whom most of us look up to, as if they are outrageously “successful” are each, in actual fact, complete failures, in the only sense that really counts: in evolutionary terms. The four and half billion year chain of life, that gave rise to them – an unbroken chain of succession – ends with them. They are thus, total failures. They are the end-stop, of all the multibillion year striving that engendered them. There is something terribly tragic in that. Of course, what is most tragic is that none of them seem to realize it. They are too superficial, too concerned with their “personal freedom”, to understand what they are doing, or what they are losing.

I do not have success on the scale of any of these famous names. Yet, in another sense, I am far more successful than any of them. I am a successful parent, with three unique children. That is a kind of success that, in my eyes, outshines all that they have achieved in their media-hyped worlds. If I am fortunate and my children go on to have children, and their children, children and so on, then I shall have descendants spreading out through time, into the far future. Those famous names, however, will nothing behind but their names. Which is worth more…a legion of children…or a name? Life is ever greater than a word – whatever those famous people might think, now. Then again, it is possible that I will leave a name, as well as my children and grandchildren in this world. I might leave both types of legacy. That type of dual success is forever barred to Hollywood’s childless couples.

The common man might not see my life as “successful” as a Hollywood star – but in the way that really counts, I am far more successful, and accomplished. My life is lived with an understanding of the true purpose of life – theirs is not. I have given life to the world…but all they have given is entertainment. Set against each other, side by side, a life of entertainment does seem rather trivial by comparison. They have chosen a life free of substance, rich in triviality and fleeting sensation. They have set themselves free of children, so that they are “free” to enjoy themselves the better. Now, that is a choice we can all make – to choose pleasure over parenthood – but pleasure is always a fleeting thing, that needs to be forever sought again – parenthood is forever, or at least for life. It is not difficult to see, for me, at least, which, ultimately has the greater value.

So, which would you rather be: a Hollywood star, who is forever childless, or a parent of several adorable children? Would you choose the spotlight, or parenthood?

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:22 PM 


Blogger Christine said...

I do think that many people in this postmodern world are very wrapped up in themselves. They don't want to give up their time and money for a child. They feel that children will take away from the time they can use to pursue their own happiness and goals.
Many people these days just see children as an inconvenience.

I did realize that if I keep my focus on getting all sorts of achievements and pleasure-seeking, then in the end I will just be sitting by myself.

4:58 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. Postmodernity and selfishness are often one and the same. Yet, people who are that selfish end up leaving nothing lasting behind. Once their name has faded, for whatever achievements they made, there is nothing else left. There are no descendants to remember them in decades and centuries to come.

I hope you have a family one day - and that you achieve your aims. Both are possible.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Thank you. I am starting a master's in International Development. I looked at many things, and I settled on that.

I am not sure when I'll ever start a family. I'll want to be done with school then and have a decent job.

I have thought of the possibility of adoption, even if I do have any biological children. There are so many orphans in this world that could flourish if they were given the chance to have a good family. I would consider certain special needs in a child.

10:49 PM  
Blogger kipihenta said...

Perhaps these stars' childlessness is not a choice - infertility?

10:50 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Good thought, Kipihenta, but I don't think it applies. Almost all of these stars are known (to me) to have spoken out against having children, for themselves, anyway - they speak of it as a choice. Of course, some might be covering up for underlying fertility problems, but I don't that is likely to be the typical case, here.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It is good that you are considering motherhood as well as a career - even adoptive motherhood. The task is the same, of course - the raising of a child - and the lessons it gives you in life, are much the same, though not identical. One advantage of having biological kids is that you can learn about what you were like as a child by seeing echoes of your younger self in your child. Then again, you can learn about others, through adopting a child - so they are two sides of the same thing, really.

Good luck with your studies.

3:32 PM  

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