The answer lies in a good friend of mine. It was some years back, as we were having one of our many debates, Israel vs Palestine I believe it was. Upon concluding our debate, with no clear victor, he said something along the lines of “What do I know, I’m stupid…”. That struck me as rather odd. He was, and still is, one of the most intelligent people I know. I would never had admitted something like that about myself. As far as I was concerned, I was at least somewhat intelligent.
I believe I finally understand his meaning. If you admit to yourself that you are smart, you will eventually begin assuming you are smart, and not keep up the necessary hard work and sacrifice needed to actually stay smart. If you keep telling yourself you are intelligent, or reveling in others praise of your intelligence, eventually you become dumb; the world just moves on by.
We live in a fast-moving world, bombarded every day with information from a multitude of sources. Just to keep up to date with the latest issues, requires hours a day of reading, watching and social interaction.
I spent hours a day reading articles on philosophy, science, politics, economics, and technology on my computer at home, my laptop when my girlfriend is showering, on my tablet when I am out and about, on my iPhone when I am and about and forgot my tablet, and on my Kindle when I tire of backlit screens. I do all this to try to be up-to-date, to know stuff, and stay an idiot, for I can never be smart. I don’t do this just to release a book. It is my default mode, I just like to know everything, and I like to pass on that knowledge to others. But to be smart is a fantasy, a goal that will never be realized. It took me a few years to realize that, which just proves the point of this post.
At the end of the day, we are all idiots at a lot of different things, while only competent in a few areas, and only smart in even less. The best thing we can do is let go of the fantasy that we are smart. I get a little better at it every day.