In high school, I dated a guy who could play every instrument he picked up. He was some sorta prodigy. He had a music room, and I never tired of his musical abilities. I also never thought much about it, because I was young and there seemed to be an abundance of talented people around me.
I’ve come to realize I’m still surrounded by talented people, but they’re adults, grown responsible adults, most of whom don’t have hours a day to feed their passions.
In college, while learning about how people learn and the various abilities students might possess, I was tested in every way possible. I came to understand that despite IQ, intelligence depends a great deal on the span of a person’s abilities. Meaning, with regards to Gardner’s theory, a better brain wasn’t about the scores, but rather, the range of scores. A person who scores moderately above average in all fields is brighter, and likely to experience more success compared to someone who spikes extremely high scores in only one or two areas. I won’t go into this too much, because you can read about it elsewhere, but suffice it to say, I’m a person with big highs and big lows, and this relates completely to living my life, regardless of occupation or academia.
Splendid with words, self, and nature — not so much splendid at everything else.
Of course, I take my own abilities for granted, thinking my own abilities are not gifts, really. Articulating my thoughts and feelings is a cinch, and writing them is even easier. I think growing flowers and food isn’t even a skill, more a matter of hope mixed with the magic of science. How can you walk by plants and rocks and not even know what they’re called? Isn’t cooking simply common sense? What do you mean you can’t visualize an imaginary tree? Can I cut you one from the imaginary forest I can’t see through? Why does it take you so long to answer me?!?
But oh, the things other people can do! Particularly, The Mister. I have a feeling his range of intelligence is a much closer, level range than my own. All of my lows are his highs, which makes him not only complimentary, but downright admirable.
He can hit a ball with a bat — any size ball, any size bat. Even he can hit balls with his hand, or a racquet, or a club, or a paddle, or whatever. Better yet, he can land it where he aims. He can also throw things and catch things. When I throw the remote across the coffee table, everyone ducks, but he always catches it. When he throws me the remote, it touches my hand and then it falls or ricochets because I cannot catch things.
He can pack stuff. Brute force doesn’t hurt, but I have seen him fit luggage into a car, as well as containers into our refrigerator, as though they’re pieces of a puzzle whose image only he can see. I’ve watched him fit a bed into a nook that I believed was smaller than the bed. I’ve seen him choose the appropriately sized plastic baggie, when I was sure he needed a much bigger one. For me, it’s like being a child at the circus. “Daddy, how did they get all those clowns into that little car?”
Do you know he can do math in his head? He can multiply and divide multiple numbers and even add a series of triple digit numbers! In his head! I can only math money and fractions easily. I assume this is from cooking for a large family and from learning to count back change before cash registers told you the difference. It’s like living with a calculator over here. “Did you just calculate the area of the living room without paper?”
Since I’m awkward and intense and most people don’t like me, I cannot make small talk to save my life. We have these receptions after church, which are like tiny weekly parties from Hell, and inevitably, I can be found on the outskirts of the hall, eating cheese and crudites while The Mister walks from group to group laughing and smiling as people laugh and smile with him. I have nothing to say. I literally have nothing to say. “Isn’t it amazing how peanut butter and raisins elevate this celery from dull into a scrumptious treat?” I don’t know what in tarnation he talks to them about, but I bet it’s not about celery. Everywhere we go is like this, he talks to everyone, and everyone talks to him, and they all seem to like him. I mean, I like him, too, but not for his small talk.
The best one is the music intelligence though. Yeah, yeah, I can read music. Yeah, yeah, I can carry a tune. But I cannot MAKE music. Furthermore, I cannot hear a new song and then immediately imitate its instruments or play its rhythm. Then, once I start singing the melody, there is absolutely no way I can find the harmony.
We have this terrible game we play where I have a song stuck in my head and I mutter out lyrics (because words) and then he doesn’t know the words (because words) so I continue with the words until suddenly, I strike the right note, flipping the switch in his musical brain, and the entire song becomes accessible. I guess there’s an app for that, but I’m married to the live version.
I have never sat down in front of a xylophone, or drums, or piano, or picked up a guitar and just started making phenomenal music, whether it was my own (like I have music to make) or some task put out before me G-A-G-E, G-A-G-E (that’s Silent Night, you know.) I mastered the recorder in fourth grade and failed all the instruments after.
It is unfathomable to me how musicians spontaneously riff and jam. I mean, I’ve seen it, and every time, I’m completely awed.
We watch Jimmy Fallon, and I ask The Mister, “But how does Quest know what to play?” His answer? “When you know music it’s easy.”
I wonder, what’s that like?
I think if I could make music, I would be an egomaniac.
What intelligence do you take for granted, and which do you wish you possessed more of? Do you share your life with someone who balances you?
This post is part of Just Jot It January. It’s never to late to join and jot it!