I am convinced that every single person is a prodigy in some way. I just believe that the task has usually not been performed by that person early enough. Someone may have been a prodigy at running the hurdles if they had started in school, but now that they are over 30 and may have packed on a couple pounds, they are no longer a prodigy in that task. This doesn’t eliminate all hope. For all you know, you may be an expert rice farmer or corn shuck-er, and you have just never tried. Many of us in the world seem to be prodigies at being insufferable jackasses, but I think that just stems from a lot of practice. I like to think that someday I will find the thing that I am just inherently talented to do. Hopefully that skill will be something inspiring or pleasant that can improve the world. I would not like to have the ability to expel flatulence at a perfect tonal pitch (Ok, not for more than a couple nights).
I also feel that technology advances too quickly for human behavior to catch up. For all we know, the person who can be the perfect elevator operator is alive today, wondering why he/she only ever feels amazing in an elevator (The Call of the Ding). Maybe that person is really skilled at making thatched roofs, but lives in the U.S.A and works in a Best Buy.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that finding out your secret innate skill is the only way to true happiness. I mean, it probably would help, but it surely can’t be the only way to contentment in your life. Your “boring without thatched roofs” life.
I have had a few experiences where some new task felt completely natural. In Australia, I rode a horse for the first time that I could remember. I got in the saddle and picked up the reins and looked at the trail guide. She asked, “Oh, how long have you been riding?”. Now, understanding my answer requires a little bit of explaining. There were many groups going out and coming back, some people were getting on horses and some people were coming back. I was not deliberately trying to be sarcastic. Granted, that is like the ocean saying it was not deliberately trying to be damp. I said, “Oh, I just got on the horse. I think my group is going out next.” She had watched me walk up and had watched me get on the horse ( I didn’t know that) and she said “Yes, your group is next, but you can get a horse that will range instead of following the others if you want.” I said, “Well, this has been my first minute on a horse, and I am a little scared of getting stomped into squishy goo by an angry animal”. She was stunned. Apparently, I sat on the horse like I had ridden my whole life. The funny thing to me was that I could not figure how you could sit on the horse any other way. I had a little checklist in my head 1)One foot on each side of the horse-check 2)Feet in stirrups- check 3) Reins in hand and not by horse’s face -check 4)Don’t fall off – check. I though she was just trying to sell me something and I just said something like ” Oh, fhpaphpharfr”. I forgot, she was about 25, red hair, green eyes, gorgeous, and Australian accent. If she had said “No man of mine is going to work” and then maybe giggled like a maniac, she would have pretty much been my dream girl. Our group started and after the fourth person fell off the horse, I realized that there were, in fact, other ways to sit on horses. Some people in the group were prodigies at falling off a horse too, I don’t think I would have thought to fall so that I have one foot stuck in the stirrup and my face in the horse’s rear if I hadn’t seen one member of my group do it.
Whenever I pick some new task to try, part of me is a little hopeful that I will be a prodigy at that task. I bought a guitar a week ago. I decided that I would like to learn to play guitar because I am approaching middle age and a bad rock band is cheaper than a sports car. I bought an electric guitar, some picks, and a beginners book. Later I went back to the store and bought a neckstrap, something to tune the guitar so that I don’t sound like I am strumming a trash can, a stand, and some chapstick (say what you want, cork grease is awesome). I figured that with a little practice, I could play Joe Satriani’s “Surfing with an Alien”. I broke out the guitar and started learning the notes. It was awesome. In just 20 minutes, riffs from Joe Satriani’s “Surfing with an Alien” were filling my house…mostly because my Ipod was set to play it. My fingers hurt, I felt arthritic, and I had almost tuned my guitar correctly. I am sure that fingertips are supposed to feel like they are being pushed in past a knuckle.( As a side note, set up your guitar stand before making your hands and fingertips hurt.) Suffice to say, I am not a guitar prodigy. I actually already knew this since I have the rhythm of an epileptic at a strobe light festival. I hope to keep it up, but I am not sure I want to carry a guitar with me to a hotel room. It can be annoying signing all those autographs,