Friday, August 20, 2010
ANYTHING-CAN-HAPPEN THURSDAY...even more unexpected on Friday
Once my brother joined the gang suggesting that I'd enjoy the CBS comedy, The Big Bang Theory, I began watching and they were right. For those who don't know, the premise involves four very bright young scientists whose geeky leanings add to their appeal. Anything-Can-Happen Thursday is an event referred to in the show. Today's post is a small and quiet shout out to the smart men who are and have been in my life and to all smart men (we'll get to the women another day) everywhere.
My formal education goes no farther than high school. In a state of bewilderment I showed up for junior college, briefly, but other than learning to resist the deconstruction of poetry by W. B. Yeats and surviving the Cuban Missile Crisis, I'm not sure I retain much. Oh, there was a geology class in which we heard a taped lecture by Hungarian-American nuclear physicist, Edward Teller, on, among other things, the extent of the universe. One of his well-known quotes, on another topic of which he had knowledge, is, "Secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction." Smart man.
Yesterday, a word close to my heart - autodidact - came up in conversation and I was reminded of the birthday or Christmas when my last long-term boss at my last real job gave me a copy of The Day I Became An Autodidact by Kendall Hailey. Mr. F. is one of the smart, perhaps smartest, men I am fortunate to count as a friend. His wisdom results from, I would say, a superior mind, significant academic achievements, considerable professional abilities and the gift of insight. To have my self-taught ways acknowledged by someone whom I consider a giant was the greatest affirmation I could want. With his equally-amazing wife and children, I believe they could run the world.
Sons - my own and those of women I know who are not confused about the extent of their blessing - are on my smart men list. For senses of humor, inquiring minds, vision that reaches far beyond seeing, talent, awareness of who they are, kindness and generous hearts, the ability to set boundaries, encyclopedic knowledge of greater and lesser matters and the people behind them, continual growth in mind and spirit, and having survived events in their younger years that looked iffy at times, they are among my heroes.
My brother, before he set our to seek his fortune in a distant land at 19, was already smart, musically and artistically gifted and knew his way around sports cars. Who he has become over the last 40-some years is my closest confidant, champion of my essential self and my work, teacher, composer and a man whose appetite for the real story of who we are, and why, and his ceaseless exploration of life's mysteries, are all the proof anyone might need that some of us get even smarter as we get older.
I count among smart men some whom I have recently met through blogging; thoughtful, questioning, supportive of others in the blog world, self-deprecating, creative, alert and not likely to be bamboozled. Their honest writings and willingness to be seen by strangers model courage for me, openness. I have no sense from them that the first thing they seek in a room is the exit, that keeping themselves guarded and hidden is not how they interpret their purpose on earth. I have had such friends in the actual, 3-D world; sadly, they are gone. I am grateful for these new encounters.
To call anyone, for instance President Obama, an intellectual and use the word as an insult is a tragic measure of how far we have drifted from center. If smart is not one of the values we demand from elected officials, well...we could end up with any old thing. I think I know how this turns out.