Apart from his autism, Chase is just like the majority of us common folks on the planet – he has interests, preferences, goals, dreams, tendencies, talents and shortcomings; and like us, he must go through the long and laborious paces of learning, practicing, stumbling, failing, re-thinking; and then learning and practicing some more, in order to become proficient in his culinary and showbiz endeavors, and to achieve a desired level of success.
When it comes to cooking and the performing arts, Chase is an aspiring chef and comedic entertainer in-training – NOT a fully-formed, teenaged Master Chef; nor an Academy Award winning, one-take wonder. If you’ve read my other blog posts about Chase, you know he didn’t spring from the womb or suddenly wake up one day making fine French sauces while spouting comedic lines from Shakespeare. In fact, quite the opposite is true. In other words, he is NOT a prodigy. An inspiration …YES! But a prodigy…NO! Those who know Chase or who have followed his story, know this about him. But I felt it necessary to take the time to emphasize this point, to eliminate any false impressions or unrealistic expectations that others may have.
If anything about Chase seems prodigious, it would be his bottomless well of hope, optimism, and vision; all of which are contagious – as evidenced by the numerous people who have come alongside him to encourage and aid him in his aspirations.
He is also gifted with a genuine charm and the kind of love for people that wants only the happiest and best for others. I’ve said it before, Chase is a genius at being Chase.
But he does not possess the kind of seemingly supernatural abilities that we associate with the word “prodigy”. His achievements, from small personal daily habits to his academic and vocational ventures, are reached through great and continuous effort on both his part and on the parts of those within his support system. The fact that he is not a prodigy, makes him relatable and likeable to masses of people.
Don’t get me wrong - I’m not saying that prodigies don’t have to work at anything. That would be ludicrous! The fact that they are human, ensures that they too have their fair share of challenges.
Prodigious gifts are advantageous and impressive, but they are no guarantee of joy or success. None of us gets through life untested. Nor am I belittling the wonder, admiration, and pause-for-thought that we experience when we encounter true prodigies.
Prodigies can be found both off and on the autism spectrum; and they are a unique type of gift to humanity which remind us, in breathtaking ways, that human beings and the Universe as a whole, are far more mysterious and complex than what meets the eye, or what science is able to explain.
True prodigies are rare, and I suspect Life sends them to us sparingly to maintain the kind of awe or unusual impact that they are intended to have on the world.
But an everyday, inspirational, non-prodigy like Chase reassures us that typical folks like you and me can learn, change, and grow; and be significant, happy, and fulfilled in our own corners of the world - even without the seemingly supernatural skill-set of a prodigy. Whether prodigy or non-prodigy, those who influence and inspire, cause us to imagine what greatness we might be capable of within our own circumstances.