Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'd Like to Know . . .

I really hope, as I write this and as I imagine people reading this on my blog, that I’m not alone feeling this way and acting the way I do. Because if I am, I may find a very high bridge and chuck myself from the top of it.

Here’s the thesis statement. Or thesis whisper, perhaps:

I’m kind of dumb.

Not kind of dumb.

Just dumb.

Dumb in the fact that, two out of three times, I spelled dumb as “dubm,” and had to go back and re-type the word correctly.

Dumb in the fact that, on occasion, my brain will replay Brian Davidson’s Top 40 Dumbest Moments Ever, dredging up not only golden oldies from my childhood but flubs from my mission, schooling, aborted journalism career and last night, when I yelled my boys into bed.

Dave Barry says he believes such memory flashbacks are the likely cause of many suicides. A successful man, he said, could be happily barbecuing in his back yard when his brain sends forth a Review of Mistakes Past, and the next thing his family knows he’s stabbed himself in the head with the barbecue fork.

There are degrees of dumbness, to be sure. There are the instances when we look back on our dumbness with some humor and nostalgia, like the time I was playing in the garden with my brother and sister. We were digging in the dirt with sticks. My stick had dirt on the end, and I decided the dirt had to go. So I whapped it, very hard, across my bare thigh. Pain and a lifetime of recalled hilarity ensued. That’s not the kind of dumb I’m talking about here; the kind of dumb that brings a roll to your eyes and a smile to your face as you recall with fondness what an uneducated jerk you were.

I’m speaking here of a dumbness that leaves humor behind and enters the gloomy, lonely world of the genius of dumbness, like the months I spent at the paper so burned out by the job all I could do was pretty much nothing all day long. I only wrote stories to keep the suits in Idaho Falls off my back. Work was a burden. And I was the King of Idiots.

What’s worse is when dumbness spreads beyond the specific – a recollection of, say, the hour I spent with a borrowed companion wandering the aisles of a Carrefour just outside Toulouse, France, when I should have been out doing missionary work – to the general: A fear that the dumbness of instances like this is not isolated, that the dumbness is infused in my personality and pervades everything I do, from wearing my socks for more than two days in a row to wishing, just once, that when I got home from work nobody would be there so I could have the evening to myself. OR that dumbness makes you lazy. Or that laziness incites stupidity.

I worry it’s a moral responsibility to be clever, and that I’m failing in that responsibility. I’m working on a masters degree, you see, have been for over a year now. I don’t feel any smarter. Smarts, I know, doesn’t exactly come from book learning. It comes through age and experience and perseverance and all sorts of other adjectives and nouns with which I have only a passing acquaintance.

I feel like shouting “I am a moron!” to the world.

I fear getting the reply back, “We know that already.”

Do I keep trying, in my own stumblebum way, to do things? Yes, I do. That doesn’t make me feel any smarter, though.

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