Born on a Blue Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Human brain can be truly amazing when we think of how little of its true potential we are using. There are those rare geniuses who seem to use more of what’s provided in their heads and have unimaginable talents and abilities. There are also people who channel their brains in such an extreme way that the other areas are malfunctioning. Some of these people are classified as disabled, or mentally disordered. Some others appear in the form of Aspergus, Autism or Savantism. This fine line of disability and extreme talent could be something that is in fact only existent by societies that require certain rules in interacting with one another. The lucky ones are the ones who socially interact and still have the intelligence and focus to achieve progress in their field of interest. Some, however seem to be locked in their own world. And of course there are numerous people in between. Daniel Tammet is one of the rare cases of having extreme abilities particularly in numbers and language and also the Asperger’s syndrome, but managed to adapt to the society and is able to interact with other people without too much difficulty and this phenomenon is particularly useful to scientists who are trying to figure out exactly how a brain like that of Daniel Tammet would work. His entire book of his life story explains his amazing success-story of coping with the outside world without abandoning his rare abilities and how he can now use them to benefit others.
His story of growing up as an outsider at his school was something I could relate to very well. I had trouble making friends, as I was absorbed in what others would think as a trivial matter, such as watching the clock ticking(for hours at times), finding out for myself if the circle line of the Tube in Seoul was actually doing what it says by returning to the same stop I had got on without my having to get off and change. I am my devotion and talent in music was not unnoticeable and I have been very much interested in learning languages, although had a very hard time verbalizing my emotions and thoughts at the early stages of my life.
I consider myself someone who doesn’t fit into any categories of extreme case, but merely lacking interest and skills in human interactions, not being able to remember faces as much as other people but still classified as ‘normal’ hence no special attention needed.
I guess the other end of spectrum would people who can interact with people amazingly well without any hesitation or lack of confidence and that seem to be the one of the keys to success in workplaces nowadays.
As a composer, my personal concern (for the sake of true art) is towards those people who lack talent but have excellent social skills. The unfairness of them being more successful in their field can be frustrating for those who do have enough talent to spot those talentless ones, but not enough to actually interact the way those ‘talentless’ people do.
Going back to the book, the only part of the book I personally did not totally enjoy is at the end where he lapsed into chitchatting about his family and the lives of his 8 siblings at the time of writing the book. Although by that time the readers are emotionally involved in this beautiful family, it did seem somewhat irrelevant to be informing us of their stages of lives.
Nevertheless, I would say this is quite a unique life-story and it was very much worth having such an autobiography written. I found it interesting that he remembered quite trivial details of some events which seems to prove his exquisite memory and presented his story in quite a plain, emotionless way but nevertheless creates a lot of emotion for the reader as a whole.