I’m not a Christian but I do have a fondness for some of the parables I heard as a child. They nudge us out of complacency with their simple statements of natural truth.
The parable of the sower has particular relevance for gifted adults because it highlights the vital – as in genuinely life-maintaining – importance of our environment.
Gifted individuals have a great capacity for the state of what I call “easy survival” but we can find it very hard to thrive in a way that gives us a complete sense of fulfillment.
We typically blame ourselves for this. However, it is not necessarily due to our shortcomings as humans but may simply arise from the lack of resources around us.
Here’s the parable, via Wikipedia:
“Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some a hundred.
And he said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Isn’t that beautiful? “And some fell upon good ground, and did yield fruit . . . ”
Yielding your own precious fruit
Compared to us, a seed is a relatively simple life form. It may have a spirit but its resources for life fulfillment are basically limited by the skill of the sower.
We, however, are a different kettle of fish. We have all kinds of resources so that even if our sowers were less than mediocre, we have some capacity for improving the soil we landed on and also for moving to “good ground”.
This capacity is not absolute. We are constrained by the facts of our birth – Freud’s declaration that “Anatomy is destiny” is a valid rule of thumb – and determining what constitutes “good ground” is a massive challenge in itself.
The challenge of finding the right environment is hugely complicated by our existence as biopsychospiritual entities. It means that a diet of phosphates, sun and water are hopelessly inadequate to our needs. To thrive, we must have access to at least three categories of ‘nutrient’ within our surroundings: physical, intellectual and emotional sustenance.
We could add a spiritual dimension to that. However, it seems to me that our connection to the universe is with us wherever we go so it’s not significant for this discussion of a more material ‘ground’.
In addition to needing three categories of nutrient we also, compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, place massive demands on our nutritional resources.
Again, the more gifted we are, the more demand we place on the available nutrients. Just as gifted athletes require more than average food, training facilities, time and sponsorship to thrive, so those gifted in other ways make their own special demands on their surroundings.
A major question lies open for me, having to do with the Internet and access to the world wide web. It can make an otherwise empty life seem tolerable and offers many rewarding paths lined with the kinds of ‘berries’ that gifted adults seek and feed off on their explorations.
I am concerned, though, that it may be a chimera: that its branches may hold false fruit in that they pacify our immediate restlessness without our being forced into action. It’s another variation on the old ‘golden handcuffs’ syndrome of working for a company whose reward system is just enough to keep you from leaving to discover something better.
Feed on . . .
I shall be taking a closer look at different aspects of gifted nutrition in future posts. I hope this one may have started you thinking and would love to hear your own ideas about what nourishes you and what looks good but ultimately tastes of cardboard.
Referring to the parable, who or what are your “fowls of the air”, your stony ground, your thorns or your good ground . . . ? Let us know.