Cheetahs are built for speed and maneuverability. One critical asset of this magnificent species and their agility is the long, light-weight tail that acts as a rudder when the big cat is racing at high speeds. The highly specific evolutionary design of their tail allows the cheetah to quickly change direction in pursuit of its prey. The tips of the tails vary among individuals, from white to black and all the rare but distinguishable variably that lies between. This is frequently the only way to distinguish between individuals. Therefore, while their distinguishable variability is small, it exists in their tails.
I have also heard about this distinguishable variability living in the tails of the bell curve. There is research to suggest that there is more variability between the individuals at the tips of the tails of the curve than between the first, second, and third standard deviations of it. I’m evolving to understand this statistical mantra first hand as I realize that we are living in the tail of the cheetah- in the tail of the bell curve.
Case in point- it is with great irony that the one institution charged with advocating for the profoundly gifted recently divulged that they are not in fact equipped to educate my child because she falls outside the scope of their current and future curriculum. She lives in the tail. And even the sole proprietor for the education of profoundly gifted children has chosen to focus on the bell, on the body of the cheetah, rather than on the tail.
So here we are again. Isolated. Trying to be the rudder that changes the body’s course. The tail that wags the cheetah, if you will. I know this is not a sound strategy as the bell and the body are immovable. The isolated inhabitants of the tail need to disperse and go their own way.
Like many transitions in the process of raising a profoundly gifted child and tail dweller, I needed to write about this uncoupling, about living in the tail of the curve, to come to a full acceptance of it once and for all, as a last farewell to any possibility that even a slightly traditional path might accommodate our child. Having the last door to that possible path close off from the very group that espouses to cater to the needs of profoundly gifted learners forces me awake. Even a slightly normal educational trajectory will not lay ahead.
The uncoupling is complete and the path has been set forth by the body of the cheetah, by the bell of the curve. We’re pathless, isolated, and mostly devoid of companions. But life in the tail also comes with a certain freedom unburdened by the expectations lain out by the beaten path. We’re going to embrace the tail end of this adventure. We’re going to be our own rudder potentiated with great maneuverability, ready to mobilize in any direction at a moment’s notice.
So here’s to a life beginning to fully inhabit its own elegant evolutionary design. My only hope is that the isolation of life in the tail is alleviated by finding fellow dwellers of that uniquely special space, from the white to black tips and all the rare but distinguishable variably that lies between.