Why is it that I sometimes think that I am stupid? What distortion in my brain or error in my genes would lead me to believe such a thing, and why? What is its rhetoric? I’ll try to catch a ride with my pal, introspection, but this time on paper, perhaps this way he can elucidate his findings more efficiently.
First, he tells me, I often feel unaccomplished, incomplete and mentally numb: my immediate reaction to this feeling is anxiety, a firm belief in its permanence and wild worry about how everything might “indeed” be lost, forever and ever. “This one life was given to me, but I squandered it by being a dimwit, never wanting or being able to understand more about the world, never being able to fully grasp its complexities, never on the lookout for new information…” and so on. Is this a fact or is this demon of mine, self-critique, perhaps dumber than I am, unknowingly, or perhaps… even knowingly discarding valuable information which, if taken into account, would discredit this marvellous straw-man argument it has set up and sold to its owner? How many achievements, behaviours, moments or people which clearly did not label me as an idiot has it discarded? What is my self-esteem actually based on? Apparently, not on memory (which would also be flawed anyhow..), but on my momentary mood, which often tries convincing me that I should feel bad because of my theoretical ineptitude, while never being able to base its argument on any evidence.. except itself! It itself becomes the evidence supposed to make me fight in order to escape all doom and gloom, but often buries me with the same elements I should be trying to escape in order to “evolve”. “Evolve”… Such a catch-word… Such a mindless platitude spouted at me, thrust at me with the force of a thousand mental suicides… How could I hope to resist a word so catchy..? I think I might be hard-coded to react in an overly positive manner to the aforementioned concept, only to realize that my excitement requires a huge amount of instant gratification, only to later discover that instant gratification and evolution are not the best of friends.
My illness, my pal tells me, might actually be my attempt to control my environment: My sick compulsion to never let anything slip my firm grasp, the illusion I spoon-fed myself for so long: The illusion that one can have full control over one’s environment. It wouldn’t even be too counter-productive, honestly, if my appropriation of this vain delusion weren’t in a completely dissonant key from the all-encompassing melody of reality… Reality requires effort, that is, action, in order to change in any way. Mental constructs are by definition not actions. My mentality seems to expect everything to submit to its command bereft of any discharge.
In a critical tone, my companion lets me know that therein lies the source of my melancholy, and that stupidly enough, on some occasions, I choose to entertain this train of thought.. He then offers a solution, delivered in a warm and soothing voice: “My child, your perceptions of your intelligence, your ability and your accomplishments are irrelevant to your actual status or potential. Your status is a mirror of your past, but also of your state of mind. Your thoughts make up tragedies and utopias with such deep passion that you are unlikely to resist their pathos or dream-like euphoria, you join in their heated dance with reckless abandon, and you end up in an idealized mess, be it positive or negative; you dream of living while forgetting your life. Your status is a heated realization of the realization which created it in the first place. Your potential is duly inferred based on your… inferred status. In the absence of sustained effort, your potential will fade. Be you smart, be you stupid, all you can do is not get lost, but keep laying bricks towards whatever your goal might be. There’s no such thing as an easy way to success for most people, but there is such a thing as nearly guaranteed success. All it requires is effort and the daily public slaying of a few thieves that try and rob you of its fruition: These thieves are cowardice, inactivity, stagnation, instant gratification, metaphorical blindness, self-pity, entitlement and their effortlessly recognizable relatives. Now, my child, rest assured that if forgetfulness doesn’t lull you to its poisonous sleep, and if you etch my words deep inside your skull, nothing can stop you, except maybe death. Not to worry though; death, when its time comes, will be as good a companion as any, its silk-lined silent chariots will surely offer proper accommodation. Lack of consciousness is serenity. However, this life you have is more akin to serendipity, and one should never waste such a splendid fluke with empty thoughts and promises. Try your best; it will not be in vain.”