Monday, November 17, 2008

Secret Fear

I harbor a secret fear: That I’m dumb as a rock.

To some, I’m sure, the first thought is “That’s no secret, bub, we’ve known you’re dumb as a rock for a long time.” That’s not just the rhetoric talking. I could probably name at least a half-dozen people who would whole-heartedly agree with that statement. Because, at some time, my life and the lives of those individuals intersected at a point where I did indeed exhibit extraordinary stupidity, I know my stupidity is all they know of me. And because we’re all human beings, my stupidity is the only memory they retain of me.

Then there are others with whom my life has intersected at multiple times, both at times when I exhibited stupidity and at times when I was, at minimum, nonoffensive, or, at best, competent. How these people remember me depends entirely on their perception. If my competence outweighed my stupidity, so much the better for me. If, on the other hand, the situation is reversed, they place me firmly in the dumb as a rock camp.

Do I truly believe I’m dumb as a rock? Not so much. At times I have exhibited a level of intellectualism and curiosity that cannot rival that of granite, but at other times I’ve said and done competent things. I will not say brilliant things, because brilliance, all evidence to the contrary, is not as common as people like to believe – because with those we regard as brilliant, our lives intersect theirs only at the peak of their competence, not at the nadir or at the even strokes that lie between brilliance and mediocrity.

I don’t lose sleep over the thought that I might be dumb, not when there are so many other interesting things to do, like futz with the computer, read books, or stare at the wall blankly while I think of nothing in particular. I feel overwhelmed at times by the things I don’t understand, but those feelings are fleeting, since there are so many things I don’t understand dwelling on my ignorance would not serve any purpose whatsoever.

Why, you may ask, do I harbor this secret fear?

I’m two classes away from completing a masters degree in technical communication, and feel neither more technical nor more communicative.

My fellows at Uncharted spend their evenings chatting about web development with our developers in India, while I spend my evenings scanning clippings of newspaper stories I wrote three to four years ago into the computer.

I suffer from Homer Simpson Syndrome: I’m lazy, I’m kind of a goof-off . . .

My level of motivation sometimes makes that Hogwallop guy (the one who turned the three wanderers in, complaining about ‘this Depression thing they got going’) in “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” look like a real go-getter.

That brilliant novel idea I’ve “been working on?” Not worked on it over a year.

I don’t worry over much about my lack of brilliance. We are not all destined to shine like a star. Some of us, I suppose, have to be fossil fuel. Today, I feel like coal. The heavy-sulphur kind; the kind that pollutes more.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I guess I know you from writing at the post register. I was interested in the chester dam project when it was getting going. Kinda strange knowing your professional stuff then seeing this. It is really odd. I always thought of reporters as confident and stuff. It is like finding out the president is suicidal or something. ha ha

I read some of the links to the unchartered stuff. Ok. not exactly my thing. Transitional gig?
When you get your masters will you start writing again or does the technical thing mean you are out of journalism?

So. thanks for the blog on the Idaho kids - I've been away from Madison county for two years now and I was searching for stuff on how people were reacting to that. Another black eye for the Mormons, I guess. Anyway, keep bloggin', I guess.

Brian Davidson said...

Greetings, mysterious visitor from the Intertubes.

Yeah, I quit the Post Register in 2005. Just got burned out. Worked in call centers and at Target for a year, then got the technical writing gig out at the Site. It's not bad. I rather like that when I go home at the end of the day,m the work stays at work.

Uncharted is a thing I got into because a few college buddies of mine started it up. It could be a lot of fun or it could be a real headache. We'll see what happens with that.

I am close to getting that masters -- another six credits will seal the deal. I plan on sticking with the technical writing, because it gives me more creative freedom to work on side projects, like the novel I keep babbling about.

Anyway, glad you liked the Rexburg kids post. It is in many ways an odd community . . .