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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.

A picture of a messy room offering no spiritual sustenance

"Then you ask why I don't live here? Honey, how come you don't move?" Bob Dylan "On the road again"

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.

Gifted tenor Luciano Pavarotti is a perfect example of how anatomy is destiny.

Anatomy is destiny

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.

Virtually there

The complexity of the world wide web may offer gifted adults opportunity or may ensnare them in complacency.

A worldwide web of enrichment or deception?

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.

7 Responses to “Essential nutrients for the gifted”

  1. Phyllis Horne says:

    Not drinking is significant nourishment for me right now. In addition, I am happy to report that the fruits born of regular but moderate exercise, self-inquiry and exploration, daily spiritual time, and meeting the challenges associated with rigorous honesty, make me feel as if my cup (and plate and salad bowl) runneth over with nutrition; and a bit of sweet to top it all off. There is even more, and more enough in fact, for me to feel confident about throwing off my own golden handcuffs: confident enough to realize tha I have fear around this decision, but to also move forward THROUGH that fear.

    As always, thanks for a great post C. ph

  2. Donna says:

    The internet is as you say seductive, and addictive precisely because it isn’t really satisfying. I’m struggling with how to use it without getting lost in it.
    The challenge for me is to build an environment that invites me to do what I want to do. Years ago I discovered that dedicating a place for writing meant more time spent writing. I suppose it’s a matter of honoring that which I value in a concrete way. The barrier I come up against is “Who are you to do what you love? How dare you devote space and time to something that matters to you, when you could be doing something important?” It’s amazing how convincing that can be.
    At any moment I can be interfered with by the thought that I ought to make what I’m doing useful, which ruins the creative flow. It’s a lack of trust, really, that what I make will be of value, which does dishonor to inspiration and play.
    It’s just that I feel the best stuff births itself, my best work comes from somewhere I can’t see. It’s me and more than me, my connection to life. So part of nurture is replacing that lack of faith with faith, and maybe that starts with being aware of the problem and noticing when I need to step in with a “trust in the process” reminder.
    It’s a huge challenge for me. I’m not sure how to proceed.
    Another thought: What I yearn for is timelessness, and I wonder if there is a way to make an hour here and fifteen minutes there count as timeless. As it is I often feel enraged that I spend so much time on rent, food, health, and distractions. Why couldn’t I be more respectful of what’s actually possible, even if it isn’t what I think I want? It would feed me, I’m sure.

  3. This is kind of directed at Donna…about the time factor…
    It’s a long quote from Hermann Hesse’s Klein and Wagner story in the book Klingsor’s Last Summer. Read the part about time…

    “The only thing that stood between old age and youth, between Babylon and Berlin, between good and evil, giving and taking, the only thing that filled the world with differences, opinions, suffering, conflict, war, was the human mind, the young, tempestuous, and cruel human mind in the stage of rash youth, still far from knowledge, still far from God. That mind invented contradictions, invented names; it called some things beautiful, some ugly, some good, some bad. One part of life was called love, another murder. How young, foolish, comical this mind was. One of its inventions was time. A subtle invention, a refined instrument for torturing the self even more keenly and making the world multiplex and difficult. For then man was separated from all he craved only by time, by time alone, this crazy invention! It was one of the props, one of the crutches that you had to let go, that one above all, if you wanted to be free.

    Christopher…I have to tell you. This internet thing…I have NOT met other exceptional minds like me EXCEPT through the internet. I can’t criticize it too much…I spent the past few months engaging in a really wonderful ongoing discussion with an exceptionally bright mind. The last thing we’ve discussed was Hermann Hesse’s Klingsor’s Last Summer. Phenomenal. I just wish I could have in real life access to other bright minds. It’s just not possible anymore now since I’ve become a stay at home mother.

    It is really sucky…to have found your true intellectual peer and can’t go wax philosophical/poetical over a bottle of wine. You know?

  4. TBS says:

    First things first…NEWBIE ALERT! I was pointed to “The Gifted Way” by a dear, gifted “online friend.” That this friend until now only “exists” online just is what it is. She and I don’t exactly see eye-to-eye [partially, I suspect, because we have never SEEN each others eyes] on the “reality factor” that tends to get glossed over in cyber-relationships, but SOME of my “gifted needs” are fed quite extensively by our interactions. For that, I am grateful. [As a side-note I have also “returned to school” and nearly all of my studies are being completed in an online university “setting.” As one might imagine, that presents yet another odd dynamic.] I am truly and duly impressed by what I have read here so far. Thank you, Christopher, for your articulate presentations and dedication to this “labor of love.”

    From your post: “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.” What an excellent consideration! I concur with the sentiment. I confess that this has been so–in some ways–for me. Your reference to “chimera” rings true for me as well…
    From Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:
    2 : an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially : an unrealizable dream

    Recently, I have been challenged–more out of some sense of desperation than anything else–to embrace my delusions, my inaction, my flight, my hiding. I am prone to self-delusion. I am also prone to picking up the nearest proverbial club and proverbially beating my self over the head therewith. These have been propensities of mine for as long as I can remember. [I find some comfort in presuming that there are others “here” who identify with me in this respect…even IF they/you only exist in the chimera of cyberspace.]

    In my experience the challenges have become most severe and “up front” when I find my self trying to teach my children to live in a world that is filled with inconsistencies. Yes, an overly sensitive parent, prone to self-delusion, self-torture, and every other aspect of personality shared by others “like me”…trying to teach really sensitive children who are prone to similar tendencies…possessing even greater insight, greater talents (musical, academic, athletic, etc.) than their predecessor. It’s a sort of “recipe for disaster.” I often find my self paralyzed by fear. And, yes, while I may find some ways to assuage that fear in “the chimera,” I also find that a realization of the necessity of action tends to be attenuated by this interaction.

    So…I’m acting, doing. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks again!

  5. eileen says:

    Planting seeds along the way while living our life… is something we all continually-do.

    Thoughtfully planting good/healthy-seeds, at the right time and season, and in the best-soil possible for the particular seed needing to be planted… is another matter!

  6. eileen says:

    So and thus, “essential nutrients” “what nourishes” …. me?

    *opportunity… to share!

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