Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When Intelligence Isn't Enough

                                                   Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
                                                        And grow forever and forever.
                                                   Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
                                                   And answer, echoes answer, dying, dying, dying.

                                                                                        Alfred Tennyson

My friend Frank Morgan's death has resonated, or as Tennyson states, echos inside my mind, or if you wish, heart and soul.  The reason is that though death comes to all of us it is perhaps wise forestalling its icy grip.  Beyond all doubt Frank was brilliant and talented, in general an extremely capable person.  With his kind of innate talent and intelligence Frank held the ability to do almost anything.  Knowing a trifle about Canadian politics, having myself lived nearly four years north of the border, I am convinced that the Canadian public would have appreciated Frank's handling of the country as opposed to the current Prime Minster, someone not dissimilar to the current Republican hopeful this side of the 49th Parallel. For those who don't know,  Frank was born in Manitoba, eventually drifting to the West Coast. This is when I recognize that often intelligence alone isn't enough to sustain and guide, as Frank did something essentially very dumb which ultimately proved fatal. When all of his bodily alarm bells were ringing, not only did he not heed the warning, he failed to take the measures necessary to completely put out the fire.  Now it is clear that sometimes one's best efforts comes to naught.  That is not what I mean.  During the first of Frank's two extended stays at the rehabilitation center, I told him that I will tell you once and not repeat it: you have to quit smoking (tobacco).  During that first stay he was rehabbing what was left of his left leg.  During the second stint he was attempting to heal what remained of his now solitary foot, having lost the toes.  It was a grim reality.   Diabetes can be like that.  But when you don't take the necessary steps and precautions  enhancing total recovery, it is clear that something has been lost in translation from doctor to patient.  I have unfortunately seen poor decisions made before by individuals who theoretically know better.  My own father watched a growth on this right arm enlarge for six months before seeking medial advice.  Six months later he was dead.  My father was exceedingly bright but infamous for poor life decisions  poisoning both career and family.  So why isn't being smart enough to resolve important issues?  Why then can someone like Frank or my father be as dumb as a rock? It is perplexing.

Transferring this question to taxi driving, the situation is equally puzzling.  Though one could say all cabbies are crazy we can never be accused of  lacking grey matter.  Especially now with the huge influx of extremely well-educated immigrants, our taxi driver community contains a capable bunch of fellows (with a handful of fearless females added to the taxi crowd).  Yet given our collective high I.Q. we still stumble along making very questionable decisions.

Clearly this question of the benefits of intelligence is something that merits an entire book and perhaps one day I will write it.  All I know is that the late summer sun is shining and I want to enjoy its fleeting warmth.  I have finished the cold and hot soaking of my bum right ankle.  I had an acupuncture treatment yesterday, one in a twice-a-week series I am doing to take care of years of abuse.  My ankle has been swollen and sore for over a decade.  When is intelligence not enough?  Just ask me.  I am as dumb as any brick.  And my poor ankle is paying the price for my anatomical illiteracy. 

Late Post Script:  I was wondering if someone might question my routing to Boeing Field and indeed this evening taxi buddy Stacy (renown Seattle taxi guru) piped up, saying, "You went the wrong way!"   I disagreed, telling Stacy what he already knew, that with the 1st South Bridge being a drawbridge I could have been stuck for a good 10-20 minutes if it had suddenly opened for boat traffic.  If there were any interest, Stacy and I could go on a local debating tour regaling over the nuances of a given route from A to B and perhaps back again.  As I told him, if there is any chance that a bridge could open, you must err on the side of caution.  Stacy of course knows all of this.  I told him how on Sunday I just barely made it across the Ballard Bridge to my Magnolia airport call, the crossing bars almost plunking faithful 478. Such is the reality living in a city crisscrossed by rivers and lakes and canals.  If 478 had wings, I would fly!

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