Sometimes, people make a fuss about the fact that they think I’m smart. Now, people, I love to have my ego stroked, but there’s a bone to be picked here. I was born with the same equipment you’ve got riding around inside that bubble of bone that sits on top of your shoulders. When people tell me these things, I have to fight the urge to tell them that they need to get out more or that they’re hanging out with the wrong people.
However, it occurs to me now, as I sit writing this, that there are two crucial things that I was taught how to do that so few people seem to understand. Beyond being taught how to engage in the act of thinking–everyone should start receiving this foundational instruction as soon as their fingers and toes have been counted–you must forget everything anyone ever told you about the importance and sacrosanct nature of productive activity and you must learn how to spend quality time doing nothing in particular. Productivity is all fine and good in its place, but it’s reached a point of utter stupidity in our culture. You have to be “busy” all the time, even when you have nothing to actually be doing.
This is killing our creativity and, ultimately, a great deal of our natural intelligence. Parents, for the love of Mike, please stop trying to cram more information and skill-related garbage into your child’s head. Please stop showing them that only unhappy, perpetually busy people have any value. Our public education will have them in their clutches soon enough, teaching them that they must sit still, should never gaze out of a window with their chin propped in their cupped palm, should–at ALL COSTS–be petrified of failure or falling down.
Get dirty. Wander off without asking permission. Stare off into space or ask irreverent questions of everyone in general. Don’t be quiet if you don’t want to. Don’t feel you have to speak if you don’t want to. Cherish the little iridescent baubles of your imagination, whatever form they take. Because life won’t get any better than it is right now unless you learn to take your sense of caution and drop it. Litter. Do it. Then wander off and poke your head into strange shops you’ve never noticed were there before. Smell flowers. Pet doggies. Make random commentary aloud to a group of strangers. And don’t you dare go home until this has been done.
Several studies that I’m not going to bother citing have actually indicated that if you want to nurture intelligence in a child who will grow into an adult, feed their fantasy life, let their imaginations run loose. It’s good for you, too, grown-up person reading my blog. Learn the fine art of fucking off–not because you’re procrastinating and fleeing from a neurotic sensibility that there are things you should be doing, but because you need a little creative time. Hey, there’s a sky out there. It has clouds. You should probably look at them. Right now.