Friday, November 19, 2010

Derek Paravicini: beautiful mind, big questions.

Yesterday my 7 y/o daughter & I had a chat about giftedness. After much discussion, we concluded that God has given each & every one of us gifts. It's our job to find out what ours are, & use them to the best of our ability. She ponders, then asks quietly, "If you do use your gift, does it ever run out?"

"Hmm...Does God ever run out?"
I ask.

Do the mysteries of God ever, really, 'run out?' Then today, I meet Derek.

"Derek is 26. He doesn't know his left from right, & can barely count to 10. Like many people who cannot see, Derek has developed an acute sense of has allowed him to flourish in ways that most of us could never imagine..."

"He's got extraordinarily developed analytic hearing, which I don't know of any parallels for."
"We know very little about what's inside Derek's head..."
"There are some pianists who can play a million notes a second & it doesn't mean anything, because it doesn't have any feeling in it. And there are other people who play the simplest thing & just sort of get you 'there,' you know, & Derek I think, has, importantly, has the ability to do both."

"Derek's talent is clear, but it raises questions. Where does genius like this come from? And how can it possibly coexist with such severe disabilities??"

Excellent questions; but wait, there's more:

"Derek possesses an extremely rare gift of Universal Absolute Pitch, which means he is able to discriminate every note he hears, much as we recognize different colors..."

As for my 7 year old daughter, & her 2nd grade gifts, I feel fairly neat, rather tidy. But here's something I just can't answer,

"What does it means to be a musical genius in the wake of such a profound disability?"

I don't have much of an answer yet. Do you?



Joe said...

Here is my analysis...for what it's worth.

The most complicated thing in creation is the universe itself and all of its individual and collective parts.

The second most complicated thing in existance is the human brain, which is made up of the third most complicated thing in the world: DNA molecules.

For any and/or all of this to have come about by chance is absolutely impossible.

When I look at a car, I know it has been assembled by a higher power than "cardom."

When I look at the universe, the human brain and DNA, I know they have been assembled by a higher power than "nature."

Therefore, I know God has assembled them.

I also conclude that simple people like Derek have been put here by God to confound those "wise" among us.

He did it well, didn't He?

Susannah said...

A comment via email from one of my dearest of friends, "B":
"I was intrigued by your question! So I did some searching…"

Ps. 139:
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Ecclesiastes 11:
4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
5 As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.
6 Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

Job 37:
5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.

Luke 21:
1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.
2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

1 Cor.:
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.
5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Romans 8:
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

2 Cor. 1:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Wow. That's a lot to think on, eh? Thank you, B.

Susannah said...

Joe~ I like your analysis, esp this part: "I also conclude that simple people like Derek have been put here by God to confound those "wise" among us."
Now, I can't even claim to be 'wise,' but I'm confounded...and mesmerized, and haunted. Wow.

JINGOIST said...

That was a wonderful post! So inspiring. I've added you to my favorites. :-)

Z said...

Well, Jingoist finally got with the program :-) (He's a REALLY good buddy of mine and I'm glad he's here at GET THE BIG IDEA!!)

As for Derek...this phenomena isn't UNcommon but it surely isn't COMMON, is it, by a long shot.

THe Scriptures have some bearing on this, I think....I hope.
How can one look at Derek and think it's an accident, just DNA MOLECULES randomly put together? No way.

And, I think our gifts just keep on giving :-)

Susannah said...

Jing! So glad you've stopped by! Truly a provocative story, no? And thanks for 'listing' me -- an honor. ;) (I just got on board as one of your followers, too.)

Z, darling! Any friend of yours is a friend of mine...I'm sure Jing & I will get on famously. :)

I spent almost an hour this morning watching videos about Derek; this one was the most succinct. Several others gave his fam. history, neurological 'experiments' that've been done to try & explain it...He's a fascinating person; an 'enigma' as his teacher said.

As for the scriptures, "B" is one of my dearest friends, & has an uncommon, quiet wisdom. Not only that, she's a really smart cookie. When she says she has 'done some searching,' you can be sure she knew exactly where to go. I think the reference she gave do, indeed, have some bearing, as you said.

I'm counting on it.

DUTA said...

Your post reminds me of other great talents with disabilities: Andrea Bocceli, the italian opera singer,who is blind, and of course Beethoven , the genial composer who was deaf.

People with disabilities have the gift of digging deeper than others in their soul and minds, and come up with divine creations. I believe it's God that guides them in this digging.

And your daughter is a smart kid who asks smart questions.

Susannah said...

Duta~ Andrea Boccelli is one of our FAVORITES! He opens his mouth & dark velvety music pours forth. Wow. And the emotion that his music elicits...magical - brings me to tears at times...Beethoven - amazing, truly.

"I believe it's God that guides them in this digging."
Indeed. How could it not be?

As for my daughter, like most children, she understands things on a completely different level than grown people. One just never knows when that wisdom is gonna show up...

Thanks for your wonderful comment, Duta. See you soon~

Dan said...

Of coarse this brings back memories of "Rainman" with Dustin Hoffman. I remember it was Dustin's character's ability to do complex math that was amazing. For math however, there is no emotional connection. Seeing the beauty in math is seeing the beauty in pure logic, which takes thought and therefore the beauty of it escapes most.

I also read recently here of a man's ability to draw a detailed picture of New York City after flying over it once in a helicopter. Our minds are indeed incredible things.

This particular young man, I think, strikes a special chord with us, if you will please pardon the pun, because of music's ability to bypass the thinking portions of our brains and go straight to the emotions. Not only is his mind able to function incredibly well in one area, that one area is an area where we express and experience incredible beauty. That area being music.

These kind of things are all fascinating to me. This is a great video, thanks for posting it.

You highlighted the question, and I remember hearing it as it was spoken: "Where does genius like this come from?". I like Joe's analysis in answering it.

I would add that if we are evolved, what difference does it make that some evolved material's actions differ from other evolved material's actions. The simple and inescapable answer to the question of where does it come from is "nothing", just like where the question, and the person who asked it.

Susannah said...

Dan~ Thanks so much for coming by & for your thoughtful comments. Yes, the Rainman story was/is fascinating.

Derek's story is so poignant (to me) b/c of the emotional depth he seems to convey. Like you said, the capacity for emotion is essential to touch the beauty of music. There's such a vast chasm between who he is in the real world & the living, breathing, emotionally alive spirit that appears when his fingers touch the keys. For someone like him, piano keys hold the secret to unlocking life.