Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What is Intelligence?

According to "the Googles" it is  the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. This seems pretty simple and straight forward. At the same time it isn't necessarily how people tend to evaluate someone's intelligence. I know I question my intelligence on a regular basis, but why? For one thing, I can't spell correctly without great effort. Do I not have the ability to acquire and apply the knowledge of how to spell words in the English language? Perhaps it is that I rely on the use of autocorrect, which could be considered a modern skill. It could also be considered lazy.

Laziness, now that is something I tend to suffer from. It seems to be brought on, mostly, by depression. Something I inwardly struggle with, and have for most of my life. I find that the less lazy I am the less depressed I am, which I think is true for most people. So is that the issue, intellectual laziness? I think that has a great deal to do with it. I find that when I'm depressed it is easier to immerse myself in the physical rather than intellectual pursuits. Forcing my body into physical labor pushes me to keep going even when my emotional state is less than fully healthy.

This is not to say that I do not still think heavily on things while I am doing physical things like planting a garden, or installing hardware into a custom door, or building a chalk board from scratch. I ponder things at great length. I think about art, societal norms and why they have come to be, parenting, food and cultures of others, religious practices and forms of prayer and meditation, the meaning of life for different groups of people and how that effects their sense of being, and many other topics.

I can spend hours thinking about these things and listening to other people discuss them. More recently than not I have been thinking about why it is that I don't join into these discussions, even when I have valid points to contribute. Some of this is a lack of validity. I do not have multiple degrees and I am not well read (though I am working on the later). I fear misspeaking and looking juvenile in the face of wiser, kinder people. There is also another element that came to me in an epiphany in the shower. One of the best places to ponder things, I think. I was raised with the mentality that you should gather, but never volunteer information. This idea that everything is military and tactical. If you know more from a conversation, but the person you've just conversed with has no further information about you or your stance, then you've gained a leg up. This does not work in intellectual conversations, if you truly yearn to gain more from the experience.

The work I have to do to become a better person, conversationalist, participant in the richness of life, is never ending. This step, however, makes me feel like I've moved forward on this path, even if ever so slightly, and it pleases me greatly. I ache to be a part of  intellectual conversations that force me to question everything I know.

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