There are days when life’s challenges leave me thinking how cool it would be to be a tad smarter, cleverer, and insightful. It’s an if only kind of feeling. If only I were…, I could fix this problem or resolve that dilemma.
The feeling comes pretty close to whining but it works for me so long as I don’t let the frustration transform into something even less useful. Instead, I like to indulge myself with a game. It’s called, “I may not be all that smart but you’re not all that smart either.”
To play, I start with something wise said by someone who really is (or was) certifiably smart, clever, and insightful. I then pick at it some until the wisdom seems a little less perfect, a little less beyond anything I could have thought of to say. I don’t need to develop a counter–point. It’s enough just to pick some. For example, Robert Louis Stevenson is unquestionably way up there on the all–time smart and clever scale so definitely qualifies for my game.
He said, “Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down. And this is all life really means.”
A beginner at my game would probably pounce on “Anyone can.” Universal assertions are typically quite vulnerable to assault. Instead, I choose to pick at, “And this is all life really means.” Surely life has meaning beyond me and what I can do. What about lending my neighbor a helping hand and giving back to the world at least as much as I take from it. There you go – a point for me.
What do you think? Does my game have any appeal for you? Try the wisdom of Elbert Hubbard. He qualifies as one of the clever ones so have a turn with one of his pronouncements.
He said, “Be pleasant until ten o’clock in the morning and the rest of the day will take care of itself.”
As you see, I started you off with an easy one. Hubbard’s point, although cleverly stated, is silly and certainly not true. According to him, our only responsibility is to be pleasant and then only until ten o’clock. We have no responsibility after brunch. And what about the rest of the day taking care of itself? May I assume you are not thrilled about turning your outcomes impotently over to the rest of the day without a whimper? – A point for you.
Now that you know about my game and how to play, I predict you will find yourself playing it now and then when your limitations bump up against life’s challenges. It does help ease the frustrations. As soothing as the game can be, though, it is not a slam–dunk. For example, there is an Irish saying that reminds me I am not always going to win, “God is good, but never dance in a small boat.” – Point to the Irish.