Yesterday I was talking about how great the carvings at the Warther Museum were. But Warther wasn’t the true subject. We’re only using him to talk about what it means to be a prodigy.
A prodigy is rare, exceedingly. Throughout history there have been less than a thousand that we know, and of the roughly 8 billion people of all time, that is a vanishingly small fraction.
Some great prodigies stand out, immediately: Archimedes, Newton, Mozart, Shakespeare, da Vinci. Others take some digging (Can you find them?) But the fact remains that they exist.
Should an advanced society take the extra effort to find and nurture these rare talents? We don’t know exactly why they are so special, only that they are. We can’t even really know where they may appear. Perhaps there’s a child wandering about in the jungles of Africa even now who could be the next poet of the century. Why not take the extra effort to find them? Why not embrace them and exalt them? Protect them from those ho would divert or exploit them, so that their gifts could benefit all mankind?
Yet, in all modern societies of today, we force everyone to complete ‘school.’ We demand banality and exalt the peer group. We cut down the star so that the rest of us can look them in the eye.
Who needs prodigies? We do. Because we need to look up.
I’m just glad that no one convinced Warther to be ‘normal.’
The story of a lonely toy maker wishing his creation comes to life is heartwarming. But tucked away in a tiny town here in Ohio lived a woodcarver so good that his creations came to life on their own merit.
You can visit the Warther museum and see for yourself. A man with a 2nd grade education, a lousy automobile driver, and a deep love of family and children single-handedly set a new world standard for whittling and carving. Not only did he set that standard, he also left his descendants an eternal asset, a legacy ensuring the modest financial security that only a deep love of family, committment to work, and the attachment of great ideals can bestow.
He refused to part with his artistic carvings. His whittling he gave away freely. He was not greedy, only asking to be near those he loved. And he wasn’t afraid of hard work. He bought the least desirable property on the street, and through boundless energy and ingenuity transformed it into a beautifully landscaped site, the envy of the entire town. Yes, his wife helped!
But Warther isn’t the true subject of this article only because of his specific talent. He’s featured because, through him, we can have a greater understanding of what it means to be a prodigy.
But enough of that for now. I’ll continue this tomorrow. In the meantime, check out some carvings!