Monday, October 19, 2009

Indeed it does

This has been one of my favorite poems for a good long while:

Takes Talent
by Don Marquis

there are two
kinds of human
beings in the world
so my observation
has told me
namely and to wit
as follows
those who
even though they
were to reveal
the secret of the universe
to you would fail
to impress you
with any sense
of the importance
of the news
and secondly
those who could
communicate to you
that they had
just purchased
ten cents worth
of paper napkins
and make you
thrill and vibrate
with the intelligence

When I was in high school, I couldn't wait to find the kind of people who would communicate that kind of intelligence to me. I couldn't wait to be thrilled. As much as I loved my family at the time, I didn't realize how extraordinary they were. I didn't realize how much I'd grow to enjoy their company when I was older. I do now. They're lovely. They're smart. I am always happier after spending time with my family. Few people understand me and accept me as thoroughly as family can.

When I was in college, I had to assemble a poster that expressed who I was, what was important to me, and my long-term goals. I was confounded. In the corner for my goals, the only thing I could sincerely put in was a picture of a woman I'd ripped out of one of Mom's Prevention issues. And because this was Prevention, the woman was probably in the latter stages of middle age. She was reaching up, as if to pick some kind of fruit from a tree. She was wearing a sweatshirt, her gray hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and her face was lit with a radiant and content smile.

"What's that?" Mom asked.

"I want to be happy." I said.

I kept working on the poster and kept growing more and more frustrated with that corner.

"It's enough to try to be happy. Happiness is important" Mom told me. I was eighteen. I couldn't really know what else I wanted. And what's wrong with trying to be happy?

See what I mean? Intelligence.

Now, while there are many aspects of my life where I am surrounded by the second type of people, the workplace is not among them.

I am not only forced to interact with the first group of people, they are even worse--they're not telling me "the secret of the universe." They just think they are, and I'm left choking down unkind retorts like "I had no idea vinegar was good for cleaning! I mean, it's not like it has acidic properties or is featured prominently in Heloise articles!" at the end of their tiresome, long-winded prattling.

And this pains me because I am unkind.

And because I daily strive to be happy. I want to wake up one day and suddenly discover that I'm well-past middle age and I don't want to be disappointed at how bitterly I've spent my time.

I want to be a happy person.

I want to be a good listener.

I want to be able to fully appreciate the wonderful, intelligent, hilarious, and charming things all you second groupers in my life say.

Did you know?

You're wonderful, intelligent, hilarious, and charming.

I want to be able to enjoy you more than I already do.

So for now, the only thing I can do is re-read this poem, give thanks for having the 'right' kind of people in my life, and count down the hours until I go home to the most thrilling, vibrating (?), intelligent person of all. And he'll listen to my recounting of my lunch, and what I did at work, and who I enjoy and who I don't respect and what my sister emailed me. And then I'll listen to him.

4 hours, 5 minutes until the enthralling conversation about errand-running begins.

I can hardly contain myself.

Takes talent indeed.

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