I was wondering the other day whether if you have intelligence, innately, is it always there? Or can it slip away if you’re not careful, if you’re otherwise occupied; is it possible to go through phases where you aren’t living intelligently? Does intelligence even count for much of anything in the adult world, the way they tell us it counts for everything all the years we’re growing up?
I was sitting in a Starbucks, reading, near a few tables’ worth of teenagers working on their calculus homework together. Ok I was half reading, half eaves-dropping. Isn’t that what Starbucks is for? I realized I had no idea what any of those complicated math terms meant anymore, I wouldn’t even know where to start if I had even the easiest of those problems in front of me today. I probably wouldn’t even understand the question. Yet years ago, I got it all, and fairly easily. I was pretty good at math, but I didn’t really like it; and I didn’t realize yet that there was something to like about just feeling good at something. Love even. I never stuck with it.
And on this cold afternoon, snuggling deeper into my chair, listening to teenagers flit back and forth between math questions and their favorite tv shows, the songs playing over the speakers, their (shockingly innocent) gossip, a little crazy part of me wanted to figure out calculus again. Find my old textbook, re-teach myself. I think I just wanted to know that I could still do it, that forgetting calculus didn’t mean I had lost some part of myself, even though I had never liked it. Maybe it’s just a general nostalgia, to have that much boundless energy and positivity, to have my hands in so many different things at school that some are sure to come easily, to know there are things I’m really good at, and to be certain that that really means something.