By Kristy Peloquin.
I’m gifted, so my prevailing theory of myself goes. When I hear the word, I think – I am not special, accomplished, extraordinary, famous, rich, leading a nation, discovering the cure for cancer, solving the climate crisis, winning Olympic medals, and on and on my list of things I’m not mounts into the sky, my towering stack of ungiftedness wavering into the stratosphere. If the word only makes me think of all the things I am not, then what good is it to hear, to know, to sense I am gifted?
The good is in the grace of it. Gifted is a space I give myself on the hard days. It is the soft place where after I have done all the doing, going, achieving, pushing, looking, sensing, feeling, trying, holding, hearing, making I can finally fall into and remind myself that it’s alright to take a breath, many breaths. It’s alright to need time not talking to anyone. It’s alright to need time watching clouds scuttle by as evening comes on. More than alright, these moments are required.
Giftedness makes me do strange things – chase imaginary heights, wild raucous rabbit holes of thought, light tufts of ideas dancing over my every day. It makes me write poems between reports at work. It makes me laugh out loud at funny movie ideas I came up with while standing in line at the grocery store. It makes me take on more than I can handle. It makes me demand unreasonable things of myself. It makes me write this when I should be watching the clouds. It’s horrible and beautiful and exhausting and exhilarating.
Maybe it sounds like the highs and lows of some other mental health issues. Maybe you’re worried about me right now as you read this. I assure you, I’m okay. Giftedness and I are very old friends. I first heard the g word in Kindergarten when I was barely five years old. It followed me around like a phantom, taking on various forms through the years – sometimes it was a teacher’s idea that I should be making all A’s; other times it was the freedom to develop independent research projects. It was why I needed big books on lots of things, and it was also why certain movies rattled me so badly I cried for days. As an adult, though, the phantom of giftedness – that foggy knowing and not knowing of what it was – has come a bit more in focus.
What I know about being gifted now, as an adult, is that for me it is a quest, a magnetic north whose name is Sacred. I am drawn towards the sacred the way water is drawn to oceans. I am hunting it always. I want to find the sacred in friendships, work, coffee, reading, music, whatever. An inward drive towards the deeper, richer, more complex, more beautiful, more curious keeps me sweeping the world with some kind of unintentional radar—looking, looking, looking--for the blip of Sacred so I can follow it. Have you ever seen the movie Waking Life? That scene where the two characters are in the bar, talking about the “holy moment”? That’s what I’m talking about. I’m on a quest for the “holy moment” forever.
Of course, the trouble is this makes me very impatient with the banal. If it’s boring or I already know it and you’re trying to tell it to me - banal. Homework – banal. Work work – banal. Movies with predictable plot lines or songs with predictable lyrics – banal. Small talk, good God, banal! And so, I get frustrated. Too much frustration and not enough encounters with the sacred, and I crash into existential depression where I can get stuck if I’m not careful.
But, you may say, the answer is simple! Just look more closely at the banal, and you will surely see – everything is sacred! Sitting in traffic can provide a moment to observe how the drought of a long summer has turned the grass in the medians to a lovely golden color, how even in death the tall, dry blades of grass have their own beauty. You’d be right, of course, except about the “simple” part. In a body that leaps through the banal to chase the sacred on an almost instinctual, guttural level, thinking and choosing are other worldly things. The reality in here, in this strangely wired, overly connected world is that I enjoy the flow of sacred, the tingly rush of encountering something so exquisite that I’m lit up head to toe with energy. Can I train myself to find sacredness in the banal? Sure. Will it be the flow I’m talking about here? A much harder question.
My draw to Sacred has led me down some questionable roads to be sure. I think for people like me the questionable roads can’t wholly be avoided. We NEED to know. We MUST know what is down those roads. We must follow muses. We must investigate sirens. Even into the darkest darknesses, we must wander, seeking what? We don’t know. We’re the water, flowing toward the Sacred, even if that is sometimes dangerous, strange, or wild. We make mistakes. We misjudge, and then we feel stupid because after all, shouldn’t gifted people know better? This is, I think, where Dabrowski’s positive disintegration becomes so critically important for knowing ourselves.
How can we, the gifted, function if we are always being drawn away from the banal, the everyday, the ordinary? How can we deal with our lack of patience for the banal? How can we tolerate ourselves and the ever-present not-fitting-in-ness that is part and parcel of our existence?
For me, solace is in the grace the word ‘gifted’ provides. It’s not a perfect word, or perhaps, even a good word, but for now, it’s the one we have and as such, it represents a concept about a way of being in the world that I understand. That I can accept this, whatever it is, about myself helps calm my soul. That I am aware of my intrinsic need for the Sacred helps me make peace with it, and more than that, to make space for it. That I am on a quest for it, gives me purpose.
I hope others who resonate with these ideas will feel that sense of purpose too. If you’re out there with your little radar searching for the Sacred, please know I’m out there too. Blip.
Kristy Peloquin is a poet, nonprofit professional, and avid dreamer. After earning her MFA in poetry and creative writing from Texas State University, she began working for the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission as their first-ever staff member. After her time with THGC, Kristy went on to serve as Adjunct Assistant Professor of English with Austin Community College for over eight years, during which time she was nominated multiple times for awards in teaching and published several works. In addition, Kristy also created therapeutic creative writing programs for a grief and loss counseling center. In 2018, Kristy published a book of poetry entitled Adrift which explores the complexities of secondary trauma on individuals and society. In 2021, Kristy founded Class Libre, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing informal, accessible humanities education for adults. She's currently working to grow Class Libre, polishing her fundraising skills in an historic preservation organization, and making progress on a second graduate degree. Her second book of poems, Of No People, is forthcoming.