I often wonder about talent.
There is definitely something to the idea that to become genuinely great, you need to put in a lot of hard work, but there's still that raw, innate talent that helps one get there, that inexplicable quality that makes a certain skill just come naturally, that internal wiring that makes one person learning a new skill pick it up almost effortlessly while his classmate seems to work twice as hard for half the results.

Some things just are.
That's okay.

But it leads me to wonder, what happens if there's a mismatch between someone's innate abilities and the society they're born into? What if there's a person with the combination manual dexterity, an ear for music, and musical emotiveness required to make a great concert pianist, but that person is born into a society that doesn't have pianos? Then what? If she's never heard of a piano, she's obviously not going to sit around thinking, "I wish I lived in a society that had pianos so I could do what I was meant to do." She might not even feel as if something's missing in her life. She might even find another way to contribute to her particular society. She'd probably never think of anything as being wrong. She can still live a fulfilling life.

There's no telling what might have been. But in this thought experiment, it's hard for me not to feel a bit of a sense of loss for this hypothetical person.

Which makes me wonder about the society I live in. There are a lot of options for a diverse range of talents, but we can hardly say we have every possible option for every possible talent covered. We're probably not even close. There have been so many societies and cultures that have existed, and probably a lot more that will exist. How many people around me have some ability that would have made them a hero in some other place and time and have no idea it exists because in order to use it, there would need to be conditions that our society hasn't even begun to imagine?

How many of those people are marginalized?

How many things that are considered a disadvantage in this society would actually be an advantage somewhere else?  How many of the things we see as being an advantage would be seen as a disadvantage or even a curse in another society?

Which also leads me to wonder, how would any of us fare if we'd been born into a completely different culture? Most people would probably do about the same as we are here. They'd have at least something going for them in whatever world they happened to pop up in and be able to use it to get by, or even do pretty well. A few would be much better off, and a few would probably be a lot worse off.

I'm not good with statistics, but given the vast number of cultures that have existed and the incalculable number of possible talents compounded by the incalculable number of uses for each talent, I'd say that unless there's some sort of cosmic sorting system that makes sure everyone gets sorted into just the right situation for them to feel personally fulfilled and be an asset to their community, the percentage of people who actually get placed in just the right culture for them is probably pretty low. Everyone's just doing what they can with what they've got.

Or maybe most of us wouldn't be geniuses anywhere.

Either way, it's kind of an interesting idea to play with. Try bringing it up at your next dinner party. Just see what happens. Just don't do it after trying to sort out just how different the world would be if one person who'd died on the Titanic had swapped places with one person who didn't. That's a question for another day.