In the famous story of Joshua Bell's busking in Washington's L'Enfant Plaza Station, it is mentioned that his parents noticed something unusual when Joshua was four years old. He strung rubber bands between his dresser drawers, and was plucking them to play classical music, arranging the the drawer openings to alter the pitch.
As I wrote in my last blog, the attributes of art and highest emotions cannot simply be an accident of brain chemistry. So, from where does such prodigy spring? (Even blogging, I hesitate to let my participles dangle. As Sir Winston Churchill said, "That is something up with which I will not put. " I did teach English for a student teaching assignment when I decided to secure a teaching certificate.)
I have good friend who was also a prodigy. By age six he could play the trumpet as if he played in Benny Goodman's band, and soon after was playing with old jazz players who had played with the Big Bands. He swears he remembered how to play the trumpet from a previous life.
I have another friend who went to a rehearsal of a famous rock band and heard a seven year-old play drums. One of the founding members of the band had overdosed a few years back -- seven to be exact -- and this kid sounded just like him. When my friend commented to the band leader how strangely alike the kid's playing was, the leader said it was not strange at all -- his buddy was back.
We Americans, especially, are so concerned with "teaching" our kids. We even allow them to be given mind-altering psychotropic drugs so they "focus" more. Funny how these same kids can play video games for hours on end. So, perhaps some prodigies are very lucky that their talent shows up outside school. They might be considered hyperactive.
All kids seem to have special attributes. Many seem to be "born" knowing how to do things. Sometimes these talents are in areas that are completely different from the activities and occupations of their parents. This would defy the theory that it is genetic or learned.
I suspect that the current popular "scientific" theory that we are merely a genetic roll of our parents' dice, or an amalgam of our brain chemistry, keeps us from truly exploring our human potential. Imagine if we were not so busy diagnosing new mental diseases and convincing people that they have weird and incurable conditions- we might find out how amazing each child can be.
There is an inherent liability in medicine as business and having pharmaceutical companies answerable to their stock holders. In order to expand their markets, they must "create" more customers. That means more sick people. You could call this the "Sickening of America." I know it makes me pretty sick just to think about it!
But I deal in wellness. I approach all my patients this way. And I approached my kids that way, too. I knew they would find their inborn talents, given an encouraging environment and adults who did not try to peg them into square holes.
Wellness must be nurtured in every "part" of us -- body, mind and spirit. All great ideas came from individuals who were dreaming their dreams and reaching for the stars -- or just a better mousetrap.
Even kids who have body parts missing may be truly prodigious in ability. Nick Vujicic is someone who was born to inspire others, despite the fact that he has no arms and no legs. See him here. He does not strike me as someone who would believe it if he was told he must be depressed because of his "disability", and therefore must take psychotropic medication. What do you think?
I hope that Nick Vujicic and Joshua Bell inspire all of us. Despite the economy, despite the brain doctors, and the drug marketers, there is so much talent, art, and inspiration in us. We may get knocked down, but we can't be kept down, unless we give up. And there may even be second chances. Let's stop medicating and measuring our quirks and start finding out who, and what, we truly can be.