JUST TRYING TO DO 
THE SMART THING

   A good friend of mine thinks I'm an intellectual. He invited me to a philosophical seminar, "Living a Good Life," to be held at Cavallo Point in Sausalito November 10th.
   He doesn't understand that our whole relationship is a fraud. I was thinking of continuing the deception and attending the seminar until I found out it wasn't three hours, as I'd thought, but THREE DAYS! Time to set the record straight.
   "I'm not who you think I am," I explained to him when he began the full court press to get me to attend. "I don't have an intellectual bone in my body."
   He looked crestfallen, so I tried to explain how the misconception came about. It began about 20 years ago, when we first met. I was sitting next to my friend at a dinner party, and he launched into a philosophical discussion that immediately put me to sleep.
   But then he mentioned this guy named Nietzsche, and suddenly I was all ears. I listened intently as he rambled on, and he was thrilled to finally find someone who shared his love for intellectual philosophy.
   The problem, I explained to him 20 years later, was that at some point I learned he was talking about Friedrich Nietzsche, the famous German philosopher. I thought he was talking about Ray Nitschke, the star linebacker for the Green Bay Packers in the 1960's. I was listening intently because I was surprised that the hard hitting linebacker was such an intellectual.
   Next thing you know, thinking that he had finally found a compatriot, my friend starts sending me these books by Carl Jung, Plato, Machiavelli and other deep thinkers. I'd read about one page, my brain would cloud over, and it would go on the bookshelf to impress the random guest.
   "How did you like the book I sent you," he would ask when I next saw him. "Wasn't it fascinating?"
   When I told him I really couldn't appreciate the writing style because I knew it was translated from a foreign language, it should have been a sign that I was not in his league. But he continued to send me books over the years. He was desperate for a compatriot.
   I continued the charade because it meant so much to him. Now it was time to set the record straight. After finishing the Nietzsche story, which I might have embellished a bit, I added some ammunition to my argument.
   "Has it ever occured to you that I have never contributed an intellectual thought to any philosophical discussion we've ever had?" I asked. "Didn't that make you wonder if I was truly an intellectual?"
   "Some deep thinkers are very quiet, alone with their thoughts," he shrugged. "I just assumed you were one of those."
   "You're supposed to be the smart one," I cried. "That doesn't sound very smart."
   "It's all I've got," he replied. "Just come to the seminar. We need people."
   He handed me the brochure. The theme was "In Fraught Times: Looking for Wisdom." There were segments on the Dalai Lama, the Tao Te Ching, and that wildly popular Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti. And much, much more.
   Three days of intense thinking. And there was some reading that was necessary to do before attending. That's because there would be discussion of the content. Which meant I would have to express my thoughts. Which meant I would have to think of something to say.
   Which meant I was out.
"Don't you see? I'm a fraud," I explained. "I fooled you into thinking I might have some intellectual capacity. I can't even read poetry, unless it's a limerick. It's time to end this charade."
   He let out a big sigh. His intellectual brain was desperately thinking of something that could convince me that I at least had potential. But even brilliant thinkers come up empty from time to time.
   "OK, you're off the hook," he finally said with the utmost reluctance. "I'll just have to fill you in on all the stuff we talk about. You're going to be sorry about missing the segment on Ibn Arabi. It's right up your alley."
   "Unless he's playing in the NBA, I'm really not interested," I countered, having no idea that he was an ancient Islamic philosopher (I looked it up.)
   We then parted ways, my friend and I. A new chapter in our relationship, based on honesty and not fraud, was upon us. Now that's a philosophy that makes sense.
 

Home     |      About     |    Columns     |     Contact          

2006-2017 hoppecolumns.com 
All rights reserved.