I flatter myself in thinking that I am not stupid. I deceive myself, perhaps, that I am smarter than average.

Not lately.

Normally, I am a person who runs toward what I don’t know. The research into the physiological limits of the senses for the recently-completed book, or the study of the scientific processes of sleep for the book of the same name: I’m there. In this new job, it’s different.

In the new job, finding myself in the role of stewarding projects with subjects in which I enjoy no fluency, I am an anxious mess. I feel like a person dropped in the middle of an exotic island where a language is spoken that I don’t understand.  The learning, unlike book research, is more obligation than love. I am not required to invent or to motivate…am being asked to report rather than to evoke or motivate, the work I do best. I don’t have the answers. I don’t like not having the answers.

In a meeting yesterday, with a new team, on a subject matter I know well from several years of immersion, the situation was different. I was full of ready. I was smart for the first time in weeks. Stupid was healthy, and it came with a generous measure of curiosity. I spoke the language. I knew where I was. As a result, one of the three main ideas that surfaced as the quality ideas of the meeting was mine. Welcome home.

Stupid has its uses. Stupid has its joys. One goes humble to the search for knowledge, with the realization that, sooner or later, I will be fluid in the language I don’t yet speak. Stupid will fade and make way for the head to be filled up with confidence; stupid will give me smart, and the giving will be celebration.

When shedding stupid is an obligation rather than a self-pursued delight, the response is different. One adapts to subjects one doesn’t love. One does her duty and looks for the love—that is the nature of the business. But, as I said, not yet.

Right now, stupid just wears me out.

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