Spit it out already!

Damn I love that song. Madonna at her finest.

I’ve been pondering my particular form of articulacy lately, and how it informs how I have lived my life.

In particular, I have been considering what I am calling my Awaiting Input mode. This is a passive listening mode I enter when I don’t understand what is going on and I am waiting for someone to explain things to me.

This mode made sense when I was a kid. Three older siblings plus Mom and Dad meant I basically had five parents and in general, there was always someone around to explain things to me, or at the very least whom I could ask.

Being the nerdy family that we were, everyone was happy to share knowledge with me. I mean, what nerd doesn’t love playing teacher to a receptive and respectful audience?

So far so good. But this lead me to expect a level of articulacy from the world that was wildly unrealistic. Luckily, I developed some very strong deductive capacities and thus got pretty good at figuring things out on my own.

But that Awaiting Input mode never left me, and there was always a second mode to it which was to demand someone explain things to me when I got confused or overwhelming. Maybe demand isn’t the right word….

Whine until I got it. Hey, when you’re the lastborn, whining in a legitimate survival strategy, and one of the only forms of power you have.

The thing is, outside the cozy intellectual environs of my family, this is not going to work. Most people are not articulate enough, nor do they understand me well enough, to be able to answer my questions.

There’s also the question of IQ. The average person isn’t smart enough for the questions either. That’s why my questions (and observations and so on) have so often led to that blank stare moment that makes me feel so brutally disconnected and embarrassed and like I am a gross bizarre alien.

I try so hard to relate. But it’s a case of different worlds.

From their point of view, my questions et al are so outside of their consciousness that they just can’t make the leap. It’s not just that they don’t know the answer to the question or don’t understand what I am talking about.

It’s far worse than that. In truth, they do not understand anything that would lead to such a question or thought. It’s so far outside their existence that it might as well be coming from an alien. One that knows the English language but lacks theory of mind.

That alien would be me.

And that sorta segues into my next point, because my whining for clarity response is basically one of anger mixed with panic, and that leads to feeling like the world owes me an explanation.

Not consciously, of course. On a conscious level, the thought is laughably absurd. But on a deep level, I am still waiting for someone to explain things to me.

And that causes me to get angry when people can’t articulate their thoughts. It’s unenlightened to the extreme, and doesn’t jive well with my egalitarian views of a pluralistic inclusive world where nobody is made to feel bad for their lack of one ability or another because we all have our own set of gifts and ways to contribute.

The thing is, I have never had a problem putting my thoughts into words. It’s always been simplicity itself for me, more or less. The words are there, I just have to say them. There’s been moments when I couldn’t figure out how to get across what I was trying to get across[1], but they are rare and generally involve such high level and nuanced thoughts that it’s entirely possible nobody has ever put them into words in the entire history of the spoken word.

I might be letting my ego run away with me there,. But hey. It’s possible.

And because I have always had this articulacy, the lazy monkey in me can’t understand why other people don’t just spit it out already.

I mean, the words are right there. All you have to do is say them. Right?

But that’s an ignorant and intellectually lazy falsehood based on a very poor theory of mind. The words are not simply there to be spoken for most people. They actually have to think about how to say what they are trying to say. And if, in order to say it, they have to travel to some bizarre and distant intellectual territory because I have dragged them there, then they are going to have an even harder time.

Their lives are smaller and simpler than mine. Sometimes I envy them for that. My inability to be content without answers is something that I see as a useful byproduct of an unhealthy mind that never feels entirely safe and therefore must constantly be on the move, exploring, hunting, defending, like an army awaiting attack.

Oh, it’s coming. Believe me.

And I respect that everyone is different and I firmly believe that it is I who is exceptional and not they who are deficient. I’m an outlier. They are not.

But it still makes it very hard for me to relate to average people because my mind balks at the very notion of so limited a view of the world, and refuses to imagine it.

And when I try to force it, I get that queasy, dizzy feeling I always get when I contemplate taking a superior role to others. It makes me acutely uncomfortable, which is why it has been so hard for me to truly accept the truth of the enormity of my intellect relative to the average human.

Because if I truly accepted it, I would also have to accept responsibility for it.

Because if there’s one thing every Spider-man fan knows, it’s that with great power comes great responsibility.

And I don’t know if I can handle that.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Those moments lead to my becoming an even more effective communicator because, unbidden,  my mind will continue processing the problem until it comes up with a satisfactory way to express the thought I couldn’t express, and by doing so, increase the number of neural pathways dedicated to self-expression. My mind simply cannot accept the whole “inexpressible emotions” notion. It must find a way.