Stupid. STUpid. StuPID. I hate that word with a vengeance. Add a TV American accent and it even sounds stoopid. But occasionally, very occasionally, when I’m confronted with my own stupidity, inanity, asininity, imbecility, stolidity – call it what you will – it’s sobering.
I’m a reasonably intelligent person. Not super smart, but I can hold my own in most situations. I’ll freely fess up to what I know I don’t know and know enough to know that there’s plenty more I don’t even know I don’t know. But on that all too rare occasion when I’m left with nowhere left to turn, when I have to admit to myself that I’ve been an idiot, it’s can be a tad difficult to take.
A couple of weeks ago, I was having a coffee down on Raday utca, sitting outside, soaking up the cool weather. It hadn’t reached the thirties yet and I was still in a reasonably good mood. I was enjoying a cigarette with my espresso and life was looking good.
A mate passed by and stopped to say hi. A former smoker himself, he thought he’d point out to me that the single best thing I could do for my health was to stop smoking. Just what I needed to hear. Did he think he was saying something original? That I’d never heard it before? I’m intelligent, and smart, and know enough to know that smoking isn’t the best thing I could be doing in my world. Duh. I responded with a slightly tetchy – ‘I know, I know’ – that translated into ‘OFFS, do you think I’m stupid or something?’ Undaunted, he came back with – But Ms Murphy, as the Japanese would say, ‘To know and not to act is not to know.’
There are times in our lives when throwaway comments or offhand remarks should be ignored.There are other times when they should be sifted, considered carefully, tried on for size, and then ignored. And occasionally, they resonate so deeply that they should be taken on board.
I was entertaining that evening and none of my guests smoked, so I didn’t either. Then later, I caught up – feverishly – as if to prove a point – a stupid point. And the next day, after a night of dreams punctuated by American-sized Japanese ancients, I had to admit that my friend’s comment had cut to the quick. Confronted by my own stupidity, the ‘I know, I know’ would no longer work.
So I smoked the last two cigarettes in the box and enjoyed neither of them. And I haven’t smoked since.
It’s early days. I’m not saying I’ll never smoke again. But right now, the wound is still festering. And that phrase – to know and not to act is not to know – has become a mantra of sorts that I’m feeling the urge to share. So there ya have it.