After much discussion, I’ve come to see that I’m in massive, massive denial about who I am in relation to most of the people I interact with, in terms of intelligence. One of my wise teachers told me, today, that she sees in my behavior something like a cat batting around a dead mouse, hoping that the mouse will play. Or a child talking to a stuffed animal, hoping that it will become real and talk back. …Not understanding that my hopes and dreams for the mouse, or the stuffed animal, while noble, while wonderful, are going to have no effect on their target. It’s very hard for me to accept that; I have vast denial and sharp stigmas that prevent me from seeing my folly there. I’ve been in denial about it, not wanting to believe that there is a boundary that I cannot force the other party to cross. And I have been trying to force the other party to cross it, and hurting us both in the process. But I’ve been wrong. As noble as it is to want the field to be even, it isn’t. My wise teacher suggested that given the width and length and depth of this particular chasm, that taking a serious look at what it means for me to live in such a world would be something I would need to do to find peace in this life. What are the implications, for me, that the mouse is never going to wake up, that the stuffed animal is never going to talk back? I don’t know the answers to that, but I’m starting by admitting to myself that for the vast majority of my pairings, these metaphors fit. Sometimes I confuse the issue by insulting the other party, or else I deny to myself the real nature of the situation (because it scares me…because I don’t want it to be true…I don’t want the world—my world—to be like that). The truth is that I love these mice, these stuffed animals, and, as such, insulting them doesn’t make me happy. I have to give that up. And I am doing that. But, equally, I have to give up my denial that, between me and 99.999% of people, the IQ field is slanted in my favor. In some peace-loving, social-justice sense, I don’t want that to be the case, and I’ve become expert at denying that that is the case. But I’m wrong. And my denial is causing me problems. And I want to leave it behind. The conversation I want to have, the interaction I strive to create, the play I want to enjoy (if measured solely in terms of intelligence—which it isn’t) will only happen with about 1 in 100,000 people I meet. Those are crazy odds. That means that when I lived in Dayton, Ohio, there might have been one person smarter than me in Dayton, Ohio…seen in that light it is not that surprising that my PSAT score was the highest not only in my class but was the highest score of all the students who ever took the PSAT at my high school…in the history of the school. You’re not supposed to talk about things like this, because it alienates other people. And please understand I don’t want to alienate people—I want them to play with me! But, on the whole, they don’t, they can’t, they won’t; what most people do with me is marginalize me because they feel threatened by me. This is in no way my aim…this is in no way desirable to me…I want to play, and people who are scared can’t relax enough to play (this destroys work dynamics—when I do well, my coworkers don’t like it, because they think it makes them look bad—when I show up, the guy who was previously the smartest guy in the room, isn’t). Fortunately, there are almost 70,000 people in the world who are smarter than me—unfortunately, if you know me (randomly), I’m almost certainly the smartest person you’ll ever meet (if you live in the United States for 80 years and meet 1,250 randomly-selected people each year, it’s 16 times more likely that you’ll be struck by lightning in your lifetime than that you’ll meet someone smarter than me in that same time). DaVinci had it much worse, James Woods has it worse, but still, those are pretty rough odds. I don’t want this to be a reality of my world, but it is. Denying it is causing me trouble: in denying it, I continue to allow myself to expect that certain mice will play, that certain stuffed animals will talk back. But they won’t, they won’t, they just won’t. As a kid, some of the trouble I experienced was as a result of being smarter than the adults I knew. As an adult, being smarter than every coworker and every classmate I’ve ever encountered, has been a problem (for me). I’ve kept hoping that I would encounter a coworker that I could collaborate with. I’ve been mad at them when they wouldn’t—but it isn’t wouldn’t…it’s couldn’t. I want to get through my denial about this and look at it rationally, by the numbers. It’s not going to happen, it’s never going to happen. Miracles are possible, but I can’t make them happen. I don’t worry about getting struck by lightning, and most of us would consider that rational…not to worry about that, because there’s about a 1/6000 chance that that will happen to me…which for most people means not only will they never get struck by lightning but that additionally they’ll never even know someone who gets struck by lightning. By similar rationale (but with significantly more precipitous odds) I should not expect that I will ever encounter a coworker who is on my level intellectually, or that I will marry a woman who is smarter than me. I have never thought I would need the latter to be happily married. I have somehow expected that the former could happen. Statistically, though, it’s so unlikely that it would make more sense for me to worry about being struck by lighting…much more sense. So I need to forget about it. And with those folks I know who I’ve been batting around like dead mice, hoping they’ll play…I need to give up on having the discussion I’d like to have. I’ve been hopefully deluding myself. It’s never going to happen. Knowing that, thinking about it rationally, I hope I can stop talking to stuffed animals and do my life a little differently. Otherwise, says my wise teacher, it’s like having an 800-pound gorilla in the room and simply pretending it’s not there.