It’s not easy being stupid, especially when you’re really smart. I’ve been watching my Dad do this mystic dance between brilliance and idiocy for my whole life. As I’ve written before, not only is my Dad a hero, he is brilliant. The army tested his IQ at 137 – and it’s difficult to keep that under wraps sometimes. His humor, his ability to fix anything mechanical, and his understanding of the bigger issues in life are unparalleled.
And yet, when it comes to interpersonal relationships and corporate politics, it’s pretty clear he wasn’t so bright. Actually, one could probably say the same thing about my grandfather and me too. #sigh
Sometime, I don’t understand myself. I have the best of intentions, and then I seem to trip over myself trying to foil those intentions. I hurt those I love, I fall into a pit of despair, and I spiral into a melancholy mood of endless introspection.
Yes, I am a Cro-magnon man. Smart on the outside, an idiot on the inside.
Although it often seems there is no progress being made, I often have to remind myself of where I was 25+ years ago. At the age of 25 I’d never had a serious relationship that lasted more than a couple of years, I consumed mind-altering substances like they were sugar-free candy, and I was severely in debt, despite a generous paycheck. After nearly a decade of making poor choices, I realized I needed to turn a new direction. Sex, drugs, and irresponsibility weren’t working anymore – Ha! As if they ever did.
For the past 25+ years, I have sought to make healthier choices. For the most part, I’m much further down the path than I ever imagined I could be. It often has felt like two steps forward, and one step back. Actually, many times it has been one step forward and two steps back. In fact, I’ve often spent months wallowing in place – making no headway at all.
There’s an old parable related at 12 Step gatherings. It goes something like this:
My Life’s Story in Seven Chapters…
A man got up one morning, got dressed, and left for work. He walked down the steps and ventured onto the sidewalk. After waiting at the cross walk, he looked both ways, stepped off the curb and fell into a deep hole.
The next morning the man got up, showered, dressed, and headed out the door. After waiting at the cross walk, he immediately stepped off the curb and fell into the hole. #sigh
On the third morning he awoke with renewed resolve to avoid the hole. As he walked down the sidewalk, he looked for the hole left by the city crew. He spotted it from a distance, walked right up to the edge, waited for the light to change, and promptly stepped right into the hole.
On the fourth morning, the man waited on his porch, looking for the hole, but he couldn’t see it. He cautiously ventured to the sidewalk and looked for the hole. He saw it – it was still there, calling for him. He cautiously approached it. He waited for the light to change and tentatively put his foot out – several times – before finally stepping out and falling into the hole.
The next morning the man walked down the sidewalk with a firm commitment to avoid the hole. His jaw was clenched, his fists were clenched, he was ready – and he was not going to fall in the hole. He spotted it. He walked up to it. He studied it. It was deep. As he stood there, determined to not fall in, the light changed and he instinctively stepped out and into the hole.
The next morning the man saw the hole, he walked up to the hole, but this time when the light changed, he walked around his nemesis and made it to work on time.
The following morning, as the man stepped off his porch, he turned the other direction and walked a different route to work.
I don’t know why some of us are slower learners than others, but we are. It’s just the way we’re built.