LATE-BLOOMIN MARVELLOUS '
- an inside story
by John Russell Sweeney
My first living memory, was of gazing up through the canopy-fronds of the old penny-farthing- wheeled pram, and fixing my eyes upon the cloud-laden, English sky; watching a biplane puttering it's way past the clouds. I believe that little experience has ever since, inculcated in my being, the inner intuitive awareness and 'appetite' for expanded horizons, so to speak; a feeling that there are worlds to be explored beyond the mundane, earth-bound realm that I feel, too many humans are content to limit themselves to.
I was born in 1950 into an emotionally disfunctional home; to parents who found no happiness in marriage and who both ran a grocery-chain business. I was an only child and had (still have) no knowledge of other family members, if they existed. The only pertinent thing about my childhood, which I am happy to elaborate on, is the fact that from a very early age; I'd say, at least from the age of around six or so, I totally isolated myself from the 'real world'; withdrawing completely into a world that I would imagine, to be similar to autism - complete self-isolation from others in exchange for what was for me, a wonderfully rich, intricately detailed inner universe, that even in young childhood, I labelled my 'fantasy parade'. It was a world, only I knew of and shared with absolutely no one. Not until very late adolescence, did I begin to emerge from this 'psychological chrysalis' and then only slowly and painfully, to what I presently see myself - a butterfly with albeit, damaged wings, yet with the dogged determination to damn well fly. So, the humanoid beings which animated my fantasy world, were self-projections of my way of interpreting the 'world out there' to which I did not, and had no desire to belong. For example, I would look at a person; then in my fertile little mind, transform her/him - my parents were not spared; into a caricature, animated by my emotional impression of the person. This process was activated by anyone who ' invaded my space'. Over time, I built up quite a menagerie of these beings, each with their unique personality; manner of dress; even hairstyle and voice expression. Also had in my imagination, conjured up such things as an industrial style machine for the ridiculous purpose of swinging a disembodied human hand, which itself was first, metamorphosed into merely a hand-like shape, back and forth like a clock pendulum. After all, humans swing their arms as counterbalance when walking. - You are free to laugh - I do now, but back then, I took it seriously - expressing in my reverie, my sense of the silliness and relative emptiness of the 'world out there'. ( Rest assured, I'm NOT making this up ).
Yes, I attended school - I imagine I would have come across there, as a somewhat 'vacant' dreamy and largely inattentive child - I do remember a primary teacher once admonishing me; stating that I was an 'intelligent child and therefore should know better' - what prompted the admonishment, I long have forgotten. It would have been around the same period (I was eight or so) that I recall my mother once saying to me that 'I am not like other children'. The remembrance of that statement was partly the personal catalyst for my search for who I am, which I'll come to shortly.
Age 12, (1962) and parents separating, preparing for divorce, and myself, sitting in a daze, thinking to myself; after my mother somewhat matter-of-factly announcing that she is leaving and not going to be 'mummy' anymore - thinking ' I didn't know mummies did that '. So, high school by this time - don't ask me how I got into high school - I found myself there - ignored or teased by the other pupils, supposedly for my oddness and by the time I dropped out of the educational system at age 15, I was rock bottom of the class - and this was in 'C' stream, where all the 'dummies' were relegated! I was kindly and affectionately dubbed ' a blot on a landscape ' by one teacher, in front of a room full of sniggering fellow teenagers, and many times, caned for various reasons, to no avail.
Back to my age 12 a moment - I came across a movie poster - advertising 'Children of the damned'. Half- human, half-alien parentage, of various nationalities, of superior intelligence (this struck a very resonant, inner chord), and by their stare, could paralyse anyone. How this appealed to me. People from another world/dimension, supermortals, power over others etc. From this moment, there was awakened within me, a strong, intuitive certainty that I most likely too, had something that separated me from other mortals, so to speak, and so was determined to seek it out; to verify it. Thus began the quest to address that quote from my mother, years before - 'You're not like other children'. I also had discovered an art form in an encyclopaedia, that resonated perfectly with my rich, inner world; that of the surrealist works of Dali; hence, from that moment, discovered my untapped gift as an artist, to which I took with enthusiasm; self-taught too.
At age 15, after having dropped out of school, I frequented the reference library to persue my quest, devouring psychology textbooks and as a result, felt prompted to seek out psychiatrists, to 'get fixed up'. Result - 2 years in state mental hospital at age 19; branded by this time, as 'chronic schizophrenic' - pills, shock therapy; boots up the rear, with complements of bad-tempered, foul-mouthed male nurses et al.
However, in the meantime I got increasingly curious about the subject of intelligence; after all, I was into sailing ship eras; Greek mythological stories and early scientific inventions at an age when most young 'uns are into donald duck; go-carts and batman, so naturally I thought I surely must possess an other than 'normal' mind. I read up on human intelligence; came across the subject of giftedness, HIQ etc, and could see myself somewhat described as I perused the characteristics of intellectually gifted people.
I therefore sought out an opportunity to be tested during my hospital period. Uninformed of test results, except that my insistence that I just might be intellectually advanced was rebuffed with a curt 'You're NOT gifted, - just slightly above average and that's it'. Despite outward demoralization, I inwardly rose up and silently said 'One of these days, you're gonna be laughing on the other side of your face doc.'
In the hospital lounge, one day, I picked up a secular magazine while waiting to see the doctor, and came across an article that led me to becoming a Christian, whence from that moment in my life, I for the very first time, discovered what it is to be loved and accepted - the Love that comes from God in Christ and so began my slow, painful exit from my inner universe to the world I was living in, until that time, only physically.
From then until now, was mostly taken up with the emotionally stressful, bewildering battle to fit in with the world of people, relationships, etc, along with failed attempts at employment (unskilled labour, mostly) for as a high-school dropout, I had no credentials with which to charm a would-be employer. Besides, who would want to take on a spaced-out, emotionally mixed up ' chronic schizo ' as an auspicious member of one's staff. So was 'pensioned off ' and more or less 'put out to pasture' as far as society was concerned. Nonetheless, my unshakeable inner strength as a Christian, got me through many a harrowing trial.
Today, after being assessed and finally identified as in the top 1% intellectually, a straight INTP, with compliments of Messrs. Myers and Briggs and in the process of producing my magnum opus entitled ' A Divine Cosmology ' - an ontological (Gk. ontos - Being) and cosmological argument for the existence of God, the Creator, along with a swag of poems which I intend to publish soon, and with a cranium full of interests, ranging from Art and Cultural history to theoretical and alternative physics; I plan an 'early retirement' to develop my intellectual and creative persuits to the maximum, not only for my own, but for the benefit of others.
Nothing much showed up 'till I was about 10. It was about then I started "playing with my toys". I started building and flying model air planes. Eleven to twelve, I built a wind mill from a bycycle wheel , Mom had a picture of it for years. At 12 I put together my own chemistry set and started taking pictures of about everything. I loved taking things apart to see how they worked. At 14, it hit the fan. Problems being bored in school. Mom toke me in for evaluation. They said I was dyslexic and was more advanced in some things than they could tell with the tests they had. The tests they used toke two days to do. Back then they didn't use terms like G/T. I still don't know the extent of the gift. I've never found another that can do what I do. Even on thoes G/T lists.
When it was found out why I was bored with school the problem was considered solved. It was to be the last time I saw any kind of help in any way. I have been "on my own" since. I think counceling at that time and since, would have made a major difference in the way my life has turned out. I don't think I did so bad on my own. I quickly learned I was different in many ways. I didn't think the same or learn the same as others. I thank two teachers in high school for my resonably stable mental condition. An English teacher and a Industrial arts teacher. They spent a lot of one on one time with me. Though I didn't know it at the time, most of thoes around me had an idea of what was going on. Most respected me, some feared me. It was fine with me.
I worked regular type jobs 'till I was drafted into the Army. I went to Army tech school for 6 months. It was very accelerated. I love it. Over 800 classroom hours. Shame it dosen't mean anything to anybody but me, to this day. It was the only formal adanced education I got. Electronics, mechanics, and electro-mechanics. It was to be the base on which I built my self-education. I never went to collage, not as a student anyway. I do have collage professors pick my brain from time to time. Can't do their own reasrch I guess. Takes them a week to do what I do in seconds. It was also in the Army that my skill as a photographer was tested under fire, literaly. I was in my glory. I devored each new challenge. The Army must have liked what I did, they gave me a letter of commendation in my permant record for my performance as a photographer. Maybe it's dumb, but I still take great pride in that. Photography has always been a part of my life to one degree or another.
I worked for the same company for 23 years. They closed the doors last June. It was interesting. My job was to keep the machines running no matter what. How does that go? I did so much with so little for so long, I could do anything with nothing.:-) My gift wasn't ignored, it was used. Didn't get a great lot of money. But I got what I thought counted. I got to use the gift at least a little. It was enough for me. Though I hated what the Army stands for, but it was the only time I could realy be myself. Afterwards I had to surpress my skills and talent to "fit in". This has been going on for over 30 years now. Now I'm 54 and I have become a very angry bitter person. I can design and build nearly anything, and I do mean anything. Yet there is no job for me, not for 7 months now. I'm back to picking trash to live. This is how the gifted are treated. I'd advise anyone to get all they can. If you worry about what is fair and ethical, you'll die in poverty in the gutter, like me. The only "skills" you need is how to suck-up and kiss butt. Nothing else means anything.
Why develope your gift? For yourself, it is who you are. That and it maybe the only thing you have to help you survive in a world that realy dosen't care if you live or die. I developed mine. I know for a fact, without it, I wouldn't be here to complain. No real job, no unempolyment, no welfair. Yet I still have the internet, for now. I do have something to eat and a roof of sorts over my head. The world has done about all it can to put me under. If you have a gift, use it. Your a fool if you don't. There is one little thing I have learned. No matter how bad the situation, don't panic, don't give up. Watch for that little bit of information that will save your butt. It's there , you just have to "see" it. Be ready to act on it. I'm doing that even as I write this. There you have it. Profound G/T surviving(for now) a normal world. Send donations to nowhere, just south of noway. Later, back to the war on poverty. Not real sure I'm winning.
Last update: 2 April 2004Disclaimer: