30 Nov

Not long ago when I was talking about my work about highly gifted kids with a healer I was seeing, she asked whether I thought highly gifted kids were special. “Well,” I said, “I prefer to think of them as different.  The word special seems to suggest better than others, and I don’t mean that.  They’re just different.”

She nodded.  “Yes, but we’re really all different, aren’t we?  I can’t think of any two people who aren’t.  Even identical twins aren’t actually the same.”

“I didn’t mean that kind of different,” I corrected myself.  “Of course there aren’t any people anywhere who are exactly the same.  I meant more like ‘outside the norms.’”

She nodded again, gravely.  “What sort of norms?”

I took refuge in an analogy.  “Think of height.  There’s a great height variation among same age children.  But there’s a ‘normal’ range that the majority of kids fit into, and then there are some that are much shorter and some who are much taller.  Highly gifted kids are like the taller kids.  All children have height, but not all children are tall.”

“But instead of height, you’re talking about intelligence, yes?”

“Right.  There’s a range of intelligence into which most people fall, and then there are some who are outside that range.  The greatest clustering is in the middle of the continuum, with smaller numbers of individuals on either side.” 

“So the ones on either side are special and the ones in the middle are—what?—regular?

“Well, the ones on either side have special needs that are different from the needs of the ones in the middle, but all kids have the same value.”

“So all kids are special—or else no kids are.”

“Wait,” I said.  “If all are special then of course no one is.”  I had a strange sense of being caught in a language trap.  “But if gifted kids are going to get an education that fits their need for challenging learning in a system based on norms, they have to have something the others don’t need.  In that sense they’re special.”

This healer knows what my spiritual beliefs are—we share most of them, including that we are all aspects of the divine.  She looked me steadily in the eye.  “So they are something others are not?” she asked.  “If all people are Spirit, do gifted kids somehow have more of Spirit, or a different Spirit?  If there is just One Spirit, how could that be?”

We went on to talk of other things, and then she worked with me on the PTSD left behind after the deaths in my family in 2013, and I headed home.  We’d made excellent progress with the PTSD.  But I was still genuinely unsettled about that conversation. 

My connection with the highly gifted began with my own experience of childhood, with my husband’s and then our offspring’s experiences, and then with families and teachers of such kids all over the country.  I have seen their struggles to get a challenging education and to find friends who understand them, their sense of “not fitting” in the world.  I have related powerfully to their trials and challenges.  How could I not?

But she had challenged me to notice for the first time the “us/them” dichotomy I had created in my own mind in spite of my deep belief that we humans are all one family, all expressions of the divine, all coping with the challenges of life. And—all supported through those challenges by that all-encompassing Spirit.  I have an image I’ve used in some of my talks of “Indra’s net,” the Buddhist symbol used to describe the non-dual transcendent basis of all existence, or its holographic equivalent. 

The human tendency to identify an “us” to feel comfortable and safe with, and a “them” to defend against, has been obvious to me among races, among political parties, among countries, ethnic groups, religions, and people with different sexual orientations.  I have felt that it was one of humanity’s most dangerous and self-destructive tendencies, leading us to generalize about groups defined as other.  But never before had my focus on highly gifted kids who so seldom get their educational needs met seemed to be in any way part of that tendency. My reaction to her questions showed me that it was.

Please understand me here.  This confrontation with the disparity between my deepest beliefs and my feelings about this population I care about doesn’t change my awareness of their needs or my wish to help them get those needs met.  It has only shifted something inside. 

It has given me a new understanding of those people who have ranged their arguments so intensely against the gifted, seeming to believe that if my us gets the world’s focus and support it will somehow leave their us out.  We all of us have problems, have needs that don’t get addressed, have trials and tribulations and pains that we cope with as best we can.  The world we see around us often feels and is said to be limited, a place where there is never enough for all of us

In that world, the truth is that we who have been given the blessing of fine minds need to remember that humans are more alike than different.  Many of our kids are clear about wanting to work for all. We don’t need more struggles between us and them, no matter how subtly (or internally) they occur. 

None of this changes the fact that there are infinite numbers of differences among the beings of our planet—cheetahs and whales, butterflies and frogs, snails and humans and bluebirds and gnats—life is diverse.  And life forms have diverse needs.  Naturally we will go on working to meet the needs of our own particular bits of the web of life, but it is essential to remember that we’re in this together–that life itself is one.  And it is life that is special.web

8 Responses to “Special?”

  1. Shulamit November 30, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

    It is always good to notice when we are “ussing and themming” if I may create those neologisms.

    That said, I am very tall, and beyond being tall, I have wide shoulders, and extra long arms. My distance from fingertip to fingertip is about 6’2″. Finding feminine looking blouses that fit me is HARD. If I am wearing long sleeves, I most often end up wearing something that either is too short, or is otherwise unflattering (due to being made for a male body structure, or the style is just baggy).

    I do NOT us/them about average height people. I want to find blouses that fit what I need and want, and it has NOTHING to do with the clothes that everyone else buys. I have this special need, and I wish I were good at sewing, but I really tried, and I’m surprisingly bad at it. If I had lots of money, or lived in Asia, I could pay someone else to make clothes for me (because I am able to design what I want, and draw it). And at times in my life, I’ve done both of these things.

    Does having extra long arms and being exceptionally tall for a woman make me “special”? Does it require me to be ussing and themming?

    Not at all.

    • Stef November 30, 2015 at 11:34 pm #

      I shall enter your new words into my working vocabulary, Shu. Ussing and themming. (yes, one needs the double consonants.) It used to be called tribalism and has had many names since. Time, maybe, to indulge in some all-ing. But the critical thing, it seems to me, is never to forget that “they” are individuals, not some amorphous mass of identical them. Every *one* of them is different, too.

  2. Marie December 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    Hi Stef, as much as I like to avoid entering the semantic fray, I may need to … a little.

    In reading your interactions with your healer, I found a disquieting alertness rising in me at the phrase “having Spirit.” Speaking of having spirit suggests it is a thing–like a commodity–whereas reflection suggested to me that we are spirit. The variabilities among us simply come from how each of us expresses that same spirit. For example, I don’t have gayness, I express as gay. I don’t have colour, my body expresses in a colour. I don’t have transgender, my body expresses gender one way and my soul expresses it in another.

    We might want to consider that, since we live in a self-organizing intelligent universe, spirit itself is intelligence.

    So perhaps I don’t have more spirit/intelligence, but I’m just wired so that the spirit/intelligence I do express comes out in a particular way, with a particular feel and intensity, from a particular process. We’ve somehow agreed to call it giftedness because it appears we’ve been gifted with more of a desirable quality.

    Ussing and themming is part of the process, and it can be a good step towards healing from being “youed.” When someone is young and tender, and their particular expression of spirit/intelligence isn’t recognized and valued, they feel isolated: youed. At 58 I finally self-identified as part of “the them” that is gifted. It was a balm, and I spent a short, intense span of time re-threading my life, finally knowing I wasn’t broken but beautiful. I finally got myself! And then I moved on …

    Ussing and themming becomes divisive when people live from that place. Us and them are like countries. They’re a good place to start, but to get to live from the expansive place of planet takes understanding that “Us is me.”

    I’m so glad to hear that you healing from your shattering losses. I read that post and sent a silent prayer your way. Sending warm regards to you today. Thanks for writing, and thanks for sharing tools with those kids that help them see themselves. We all just want to be seen.

    • Stef December 2, 2015 at 10:22 am #

      Thanks for this thoughtful comment, Marie. You say “So perhaps I don’t have more spirit/intelligence, but I’m just wired so that the spirit/intelligence I do express comes out in a particular way, with a particular feel and intensity, from a particular process. We’ve somehow agreed to call it giftedness because it appears we’ve been gifted with more of a desirable quality.” Yes, yes and yes!

      The healer’s question about whether the gifted “have more Spirit” was preceded by “If all people are Spirit…” which is one of those beliefs she and I share, that all people ARE Spirit, and she was just pointing out to me with her questions that to think anyone could “have more” or different Spirit could not fit our larger belief. And I would agree that one could (and perhaps should) say that what we were calling Spirit could also be termed Intelligence. (Though that is a VERY tricky to word to use in this context.)

      We are horribly stuck sometimes when trying to express particularly deep and multi-dimensional concepts within the cage created by language. As a writer I revere words and also remain forever frustrated by the obstacles words (so often defined differently by different people) create in our efforts to communicate. It’s why I so often use metaphors (which are also limited and sometimes misunderstood) to try to add images and other dimensions to what I want to express.

      When I posted “Special?” I was aware that my “editor self” wasn’t as happy with it as she likes to be, so let me just add that I wanted to express a personal realization that I have been operating out of sense that the gifted are “embattled” in the world. My own “us/them” dichotomy had narrowed my vision in a way I hadn’t really noticed. I don’t want to “fight” for the gifted, I want to help them with their own particular challenges.

      All of us human beings–all expressions of Spirit/Intelligence–have challenges. When we create a polarity we are led to think in terms of a battle between an us (one side) and a them (THE other) when in fact we are a vast group of beings made up of individuals all dealing as best we can with the various challenges of life on this planet. It may seem a minor distinction, but I feel it is not. Taking care of and loving our *selves* is essential, but doing it with a consciousness of needing to do battle continues a pattern of conflict that humanity deeply needs to heal.

      • Marie December 2, 2015 at 11:19 am #

        Thanks for your response. I couldn’t agree more … on all of it. Creating self-love is the foundation for building a house of planetary love.

  3. Linda Carmichael Rose December 2, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    Beautifully presented, Ms Darling, the sorting out of the quicksand of language. Hope this morning finds you well and healing…didn’t the continued bleeding part of last night chat. Doesn’t feel normal. Has that resolved itself? Love you

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Songs November 22, 2016 at 4:16 am #

    I speak in terms of sui generis- that an individual is unique, one of a kind, *without peer*, their own authority, their own jurisdiction- that their unique signal begins *and ends* with them. That’s the bit that I find most individuals are really, really bad at- they like their *own* heteronomies, they just don’t like everyone else’s. (Heteronomy- the belief, and the actions that arise from the belief- that for whatever reason an individual or group can dominate and control another individual or group.

    Sui generis is dormant in most individuals because they are indoctrinated and immunised into the herd, the Hive that constantly controls and dominates the culture around us. Sui generis is cancelled out by heteronomy- one cannot be unique and *without peer* while insisting that one has the right to judge others (which requires peerdom), so the practice of heteronomy in daily life and internal landscape gradually dims whatever sui generis (or Eneris) the original Being has. It’s possible, totally possible, to become so inured, so enmeshed in the propaganda and indoctrination that the original Signal of the being can be buried to a depth that nothing can ever awake it.

    What then, with these drones of the Hive? What then with these individuals who mindlessly salute and push buttons and drop bombs until there is nothing left? Are these individuals still ‘Spirit’? Or have they moved beyond the boundaries of what is sustainable and into the realms of that which must go extinct if other signals are to survive? The dinosaurs disappeared from the face of the planet when the more robust, more complex, more interesting mammals began to appear- the dinosaurs HAD to go extinct, having run the gamut of their ability to evolve, so that the signal could continue to move and grow. Why should it be any different for increasingly sentient Beings? Why should those that would absolutely drive everything into extinction be spared the fate of other organisms that would have ended the story? All dinosaurs go extinct, being precious about ‘homo horribilus’ because of some mythology of ‘spirit’ is, in my embodiment, profoundly missing the point about the Original signal and its desire to evolve- preserving anachronisms for the sake of some sentimentality isn’t healthy at all, particularly when those anachronisms *live to destroy everything that is not them*.

    I feel profoundly betrayed right now; I just finished reading Welcome to the Ark and you did exactly what I hoped you would not do to those characters, you *sold them out*. You sold out giftedness in its most profound expression for *stupid human thinking*. I will never stand by and watch my children be slaughtered for being different because the Hive has infected the miasm with ridiculous notions of being able to ‘heal the psychopaths’ with love and good intentions and the rest of it- this rubbish idea that individuals like me are here to ‘save humanity from itself’ is absolutely the total opposite to everything my entire life has been about. Everything I’ve been trying to find the answers to, teaching myself to read when I was three so I could absorb everything I could get my hands on and try to figure out what was so *wrong* with the people around me I could observe every day, has absolutely led me to the conclusion that the humans are the problem.

    I eventually figured it out- they’re the walking dead and they’re prepared to take down everything else with them in their refusal to challenge the Hive, the virus mind they’re infected with. That makes them *dangerous* and yet you refuse to speak about that, you refuse to call things by their proper name, a crucial element of Knowing and being able to free ourselves from propaganda of every kind. The psychopathic herd is *dangerous* and by not speaking this truthfully you lead others trying to find their way through the morass over a cliff. Jack Forbes in Columbus and Other Cannibals identifies them under the native concept of Wetiko and I haven’t found anything that makes his naming of them inaccurate.

    Recognising and honouring the sui generis of all things is the foundation of a planetary society that can actually live together *in all its unlimited possibility*- even when there are seeming contradictions within those possibilities- without killing, attacking, dominating and controlling one another. Infinitely possible Beings living together without any need to try and restrict the evolution of themselves or others require a robust and specific platform to stand upon. If individuals cannot live with the infinite possibility that each new Signal brings to the space, those individuals are a threat to the autonomy and freedom of expression of every other lifeform they share that space with: why should my evolution be strangled in the hands of prejudice, violence, global dominators and warmongers, the greedy, the malicious, the terminally incapable of evolving? Why is it MY job to ‘reach out to’ those beings that demonstrate daily that they don’t care ONE IOTA about the lives of others, particularly those they don’t like?

    I was like Taryn, called alternatively prophet, demon possessed or mad- I could *see* the toxicity in the adults and kids around me, could hear and interact with and knew things that others couldn’t- I knew what they were thinking, I could hear it, their thinking terrified me- and I learned not to ever speak about it; I was like Miranda, capable of doing anything I wanted- I learned by osmosis, could teach myself anything and was rejected and ridiculed by others because of it; I was like Doug, refusing to do what was wanted of me because of the slithering agenda behind the adults around me- fame! money! ego!- I was Elliot, clinging tightly to the marble within my soul- and you *sold them out* in the story, they just screen saved and went blank.

    I didn’t quit, I still haven’t, and I’m not ever going to buy the story of happy ‘human’ endings because at the end of the day, *humans* are monstrous. Did you know that in a very early French law dictionary that was the definition given under the entry ‘human being’? *Monsters*. I’ve read histories of every kind, ancient and modern, I’ve studied mythos and legend, the emptiness of philosophy and religion, every other thing you could possibly imagine and they all lead to the same point- that while humans dominate the globe there is no healthy and lasting place for Beings like me and my shining children and every other Being born with the Signal. Fortunately, humans don’t appear to be getting much of a say about their future, increasingly less as they demonstrate their true colours- but then, as you pointed out with Miranda, there’s lots of us out here that don’t for one second identify as ‘human’.

    You demanded that *your* gifted children follow the human path and, being unable to live with the agony of doing that, went dead as a result. I just wanted you to know that there are *other* equally gifted Beings in the world that are refusing that path and are creating another one, one in which the focused goal is a significant enough mutation that will finally allow a sui generis immune system defense against *human predators*. I’m not planning in any way of offering peace pipes repeatedly to beings that hit me over the head with a large rock as a result- your solution of ‘mass hypnotism’, the taming of the lion, is *removing the free will from the individual*- you may as well make the gifted children gods, dominating and controlling the herd because the herd can’t evolve. What is the difference between that and collective mind control? Nothing.

    Let the Signal decide- raise the frequency of it and let everything that can’t handle it go extinct *like it needs to*. I feel betrayed, yet again, by the agendas you wove into your narrative; the difference between now and when I was a child is that I’m able to handle the betrayals much more easily, I get what the dominant paradigm likes to pimp as ‘good’. I have no interest in going to war with the paradigm- I just want to dustify it. My experience tells me it’s entirely plausible to do and that’s what I, and Others like me, are focusing on.

    Feel free to tell fairytales about happy endings with psychopaths- I’m not telling my children those stories, they get Others killed. It isn’t us that can’t live with them, it’s them that cannot and will not ever live with us: at some point, we need to embody that awareness and begin to act intelligently and cogently with that knowledge. I have no intention of contributing any further to the endless sacrifice of living signal to empire.

    • Stef November 22, 2016 at 11:11 pm #

      Sorry that you don’t feel able or willing to give your name, SONGS, but I understand that with your view of the world it must feel safer or more comfortable to conceal your identity. I’m also sorry that you feel that the ending of Welcome to the Ark betrays its characters. Did you by chance read the sequel, Flight of the Raven? I wonder if you have the same sort of response to that one. There will be a third, Within the Dark, when the story of that one grows strong enough to get itself told.

      Our world views seem to be extremely different, and in my own belief system that means that we live in what are essentially very different worlds. So while I have some sense that I understand you, I’m in no sense certain that you would agree with that assessment. I have a clear story for myself that I do *not* inhabit what I think you mean by the “hive mind,” so there, too, we differ. Given that I consider “mystery” pretty fundamental in the universe that none of us can fully comprehend, I don’t have an impulse to argue with your attitude about humanity. There is plenty of evidence to support yours, and plenty of evidence to support mine, so it comes at last down to personal choice. If you ever do read Flight of the Raven, I’d be interested in your response to that, too.

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