Saturday, September 15, 2012
Musings on love, intelligence and other big things...
I'm smart enough to realize I am not brilliant but not dumb enough to be happy.
It's sort of like being tall enough to see up in the cupboard but too short to reach the can of beans on the top shelf.
I can get a step stool, or even clamber onto the counter like a middle aged monkey, stand to my staggering 5' 5" with my dirty feet planted firmly on the counter top and grab the beans, but I'm not motivated enough to do that.
Not for beans.
My son has somehow come to the conclusion that he is stupid.
He says it dozens of times every day.
My son has been asking questions about intelligence. He's heard about the IQ test.
He wants to put himself in a place.
He wants a score, a grade.
He wants to prove he's either as smart as he thinks he is or as dumb as he feels.
My son took an IQ test in 1st grade as part of the assessment to determine the nature of his learning difficulties.
What we found was a kid with a big vocabulary and great spacial reasoning skills who has a couple of areas that are challenging to him.
In short we found a human being.
Despite the gap in his abilities, he still managed to do well on the test, better than average.
He would love to know what his IQ is. But I will not tell him his score.
Actually I haven't told him he's taken the test.
He doesn't need to worry about it.
It's a distraction.
The number doesn't do his brilliance justice. If he knew he'd start putting himself in a place and defining himself as better or not as good as everyone else depending on where he fell on the line.
I can look at my bright son and know he's something special.
Funny thing is though, like my son, I crave tangible proof of my intellectual worth to show the world, "See?! Me so smart like!"
When I was a kid it seemed that intelligence was a finite resource.
I come from a long line of Intellectual Calvinists.
It became clear early on that I was doomed to snort and root in the mud of ignorance forever. I was damned to be dumb and frankly it was no better than I deserved.
At some point in my public school career I was given an IQ test and at some other point I got a hold of the score. I was surprised.
I was not, according to this measuring stick anyway, stupid.
There are people behind me and people ahead of me.
I have some skills and some not very skills, and that makes me pretty human.
Sometimes I feel greater than and sometimes I feel less than but I never feel equal to.
The other night I was bored and I was wondering what my IQ is now that I'm in my forties. I am at the cusp of something, I can feel my memory fading and lots of stuff I should remember how to do I have forgotten. It's not likely my IQ will get any higher, I figured I ought to take an inventory of my intellect, hold fast to that and never try to take another IQ test again.
So I sidled up to the computer and did a little Google search.
I typed: Free IQ Test
Up popped scads of tests and I chose one at random.
The information leading me up to the test promised that by learning my IQ score, I would be gaining valuable insight into the workings of my mind which would lead me to greater understanding. Okay. I can't sleep, I've got nothing better to do than the dishes. Let's get started.
Section One: Spacial Reasoning
Not my strong suit. My lack of spacial reasoning skills is one of the reasons I don't drive. But I figured that since I was sitting in front of the computer and not behind the wheel of a car, and no one was going to be killed by my incompetent driving, if I just took my time and remained calm, I'd be able to do well enough.
Section Two: Mathematical Reasoning
Fuuuuccckkkkkkkkk....I began to panic.
I could hear my synapses shriek, that high pitched screaming sound a car makes when the breaks are hit hard, the sound right before the sickening smash of metal on metal and breaking glass. All those numbers, all that logic shit and mathematical notation smacking into my skull, making impact, mangling and smashing.
I couldn't breath. I couldn't see. I could no longer count to 5.
Fuck if I knew the answer to any of the math questions.
I drooled stupidly on the keyboard trying to figure out what Y represented: It's a fucking LETTER.
Y is a LETTER...Yam, yak, yarmulke, yaw, yew, yarrow.
Damn you crazy math people! And what is 4 x 4? Four groups of 4, and if 4 + 4 is uh...8. Add 4 + 4 and oh fuck it, the answer is uhh...I should know this, why can't I EVER remember this? It's shit! Who cares!
I guessed wildly, picking answers as quickly as I could.
Anything to get me out of the intellectual house of horrors.
Section Three: Word Stuff
The sweat on my brow began to dry, my breathing normalized.
Analogies, Words, Fun!
I laughed! I was giddy! Easy easy easy!
I thought for a moment.
If the verbal part of this test was simple it is likely that the rest of the test was at the same level of difficulty.
Grade school stuff.
Plenty of people out there snapping through the spacial stuff and the math stuff and as easy as fucking pie, which I don't recommend, for the record.
Back to humiliation and humility.
Using logic and reasoning skills, I tried to assess my performance on the test. I reasoned that, the logic spacial reasoning/math scores would show my IQ somewhere in the belly button lint to toe jam range.
I continued on, rationally using logic logically: when my sub-par spacial reasoning/math scores were added to my above average verbal awesomeness score, the combined score could be okay.
While these moronic thoughts swirled around like so much shit in a toilet, a message appeared on the screen informing me that if I wanted to see the results of the test I would have to pay a fee.
But wait, the test was supposed to be free! I said to myself, indignant.
Then it dawned on me, pretty quickly really, give me some credit, well, shit.
The test was free, no one ever said that the results would be.
If I paid a stupid amount of money to get the results of my test what would I learn about myself?
That I'm a fool?
That I suck at math?
Would having a new IQ score make me feel smart enough?
At some point our opinions of ourselves become marred and distorted.
When did our view of ourselves begin to contort and bend?
When did we stop feeling good about being in our heads and start feeling stupid.
I look at my son.
I wish he could see himself as I see him.
He didn't always think he was stupid.
When he was a little guy he had no awareness of smart of dumb, worthy or worthless.
He was happy to just be and he learned easily and joyfully.
My son is brilliant, quirky, complex, compassionate, gentle.
He is kind, he is delightful, he is good.
Not something to be rendered, reduced or distilled into a tidy sum.
Nobody can be compacted to fit into such a small space.
Some numbers are useless.
The numbers on the scale, the number inside the waistband of your jeans, the balance in your bank account, or the score on an IQ test.
We're always trying to reduce something incomprehensibly vast and unquantifiable into a simple equation with a concrete value, right, wrong.
It must be real and it must be either right or wrong.
Attempt to quantify the infinite- "how loved, how smart, how much potential"
Attempt to deny the vastness of the infinite- "I've got that answer for you right here"
Like trying to record the weight of a soul
or the depth of a mother's love.