Monday, September 9, 2013
"As I patched the barn with scrap lumber, pig-tight but ugly, I was forced to confront my own prejudice. I had come to the farm with the unarticulated belief that concrete things were for dumb people and abstract things were for smart people. I thought the physical world-- the trades-- was the place you ended up if you weren't bright or ambitious enough to handle a white-collar job. Did I really think that a person with a genius for fixing engines, or for building, or for husbanding cows, was less brilliant than a person who writes ad copy or interprets the law? Apparently I did, though it amazes me now."
--from The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball
My musings on intelligence go way, way back. I feel like much of my experience of it has been in layers: as a child, when my intelligence was thought to be non-existent, as a woman, when it's thought to be without merit, and as an artist, when it's thought to be, yet again, non-existent.
Like Kimball, I want to be open to intelligence in all its forms. Not just the book forms, but also in craft. And not just the building crafts, but the craft of daily living. I always think of my grandmother: in the way she adds droplets of water to dough, knowing exactly what will yield a perfectly soft tortilla. In the way she dances and cries, with wild abandon that only a woman who doesn't care what others think can.
Intelligence is knowing how to live fully and completely. It's being honest with yourself to know what it is that you love to do, and being courageous enough to do exactly that. It's learning about what matters and incorporating that into your thoughts, into your cells, so that there is not one shred of uncertainty inside you when you stand to dance.
It's not about asserting all the things you know in order to make someone feel little. It's not about correcting people every second you can. It's not about reading lots of books, about collecting lots of degrees, or knowing lots of smart people or being in lots of smart places. *
It's knowing when to listen and when to speak. It's recognizing the myriad of ways intelligence manifests itself and not thinking of anything of them as better or lower than another.
This is what I want to take in and know. I'm working on it, every day.
* I don't have any problems with education, or books, or degrees. I just don't think they are necessarily the standard through which intelligence should be measured.