A three year old sits at a Steinway and bangs out a little something by Bach, an eleven year old knocks out huge abstract paintings with as much depth and experience as Picasso at the height of his career, an eight year old belts out an operatic piece with a richness that should have only been achievable after years of training and practice, a six year old rips up some blues riffs on a Stratocaster twice her size that would blast Clapton off the stage.
And then there’s technology. The nine-year old Microsoft certified technology specialist, the fourteen year old college student with sites on graduating at seventeen with a master’s degree. There’s more where they came from.
So where are the proverbial ‘Dues’ that we associate with this kind of skill and talent that were supposed to be paid in a million seedy night clubs, in years of mentoring under a master, and years of investment in universities- straining through calculus and higher maths?
What causes this kind of fully developed expression to be realized by these fresh, unsullied, half-pints? Where is the hard-won grinding life experiences to validate their being allowed to fathom and harness a sense of a confusing, beautiful, complex, tragic, heartbreaking, spectacular world?
But we love them don’t we? We marvel, we parade them across the stage without questioning their ‘credentials.’ The talent they present is accepted at face value, applauded and encouraged. Dues paid are never addressed.
I don’t want to go into in-depth speculations about how and why prodigy behaviour may manifest in some individuals, you know, the musings of incarnation or spirits of old masters vying for a posthumous come back. I’ll save that for another post.
I’m curious that the phenomenon of Prodigy apply only to prepubescent individuals, and found this article.
…”Prodigies have a nature component that all the nurturing in the world can’t compensate for. There is a biological difference that kicks in with these kids and they become obsessed with their work and want to engage in their art or play the piano all the time, even though they are ordinary kids in the sandbox.”
That excerpt, and especially the phrase “a biological difference that kicks in” made me think that there might be something to that curiosity I had been mulling over for a few years. Which is if older individuals can be prodigy’s?
I had assumed it doesn’t occur because we never hear stories about an octogenarian who suddenly taps into a full-fledged talent which caused them to flourish in unbridled creative pursuits.
But if being a prodigy means something “kicked in” then why could it not be possible that this something can kick in or awaken at any time in one’s life?
Maybe the only advantage a child prodigy could have over an adult or senior “prodigy” could lie in the fact a child is not sullied and bogged down with woe and heartbreak. And debt. Their mind isn’t cluttered with the ways of the world.
Their mind is more like an open conduit to the creative spark, not yet conditioned and manipulated by societal constricts, leaving room for creative ingenuity to fill in societal conformity has yet a chance to dominate.
So why not us? The middle-aged, the seniors. Are we so calcified and brittle and rutted?
A whisper in the back of my mind is saying –mmmm probably.
I googled “Cases where a senior citizen suddenly exhibits prodigal behaviour.” The list read like a roster of symptoms one would see in a mental institution: Brain damage, Delirium or Sudden Confusion, Unusual or Strange, then ending with Savantism and Autism.
It appears this ‘Biological Difference’ kicking in is a sweet thing if you’re five, just not so much if you’re seventy-five.
If anyone has some stories of “mature” individuals they would like to share I’m all ears!