I was watching Good Will Hunting last night, (A FANTASTIC movie, by the way) and it provoked some pretty deep conversation between my friends and I after the end credits rolled.
The debate I’d like to focus on today is :
“Would you rather be a genius or a simpleton?”
We threw around some pros and cons for both, and I ultimately couldn’t decide which I would rather be.
Being a genius would allow you limitless options in life. People would fight for you to work for them instead of you begging for a job. Hell – you’d be so smart you would probably invent something amazing and be a ka-jillion-aire anyway (yes,ka-jillion). You could feel like learning things came easy, that it was no big deal to learn calculus in a day or break highly classified government codes.
But – you couldn’t possibly be normal, could you? How could you hold a conversation with a lay, average person and feel like it wasn’t a complete waste of your time? Like Matt Damon in the movie said when confronted about calling his new (extremely smart and funny) girlfriend:
Why? So I can realize she’s not that smart, that she’s fuckin’ boring?
If you were that smart, could you really form a relationship with anyone? Or would it be that as soon as you peel off their outer shell you’re going to realize that they aren’t as smart or funny as you thought – that they aren’t going to challenge you or be able to have deep conversations that rumble your soul?
Plus, as a genius you’d have the tendency to over-analyze everything. I do that now, and I am nowhere near that smart. And it drives me fucking insane. Look at this example from the movie. Instead of accepting a job with the NSA, he explains why he shouldn’t take the job offered to him:
Why shouldn’t I work for the N.S.A.? That’s a tough one, but I’ll take a shot. Say I’m workin’ at the N.S.A. and somebody puts a code on my desk, somethin’ no one else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it, maybe I break it. And I’m real happy with myself, ’cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. And once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels are hidin’. Fifteen hundred people that I never met, I never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are sayin’, ‘Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area,’ ’cause they don’t give a shit. It won’t be their kid over there gettin’ shot. Just like it wasn’t them when their number got called ’cause they were out pullin’ a tour in the National Guard. It’ll be some kid from Southie over there takin’ shrapnel in the ass. He comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, ’cause he’ll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks.
Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so that we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the little skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain’t helpin’ my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. They’re takin’ their sweet time bringin’ the oil back, of course, maybe they even took the liberty of hirin’ an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin’ play slalom with the icebergs. It ain’t too long ’til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy’s out of work. He can’t afford to drive, so he’s walkin’ to the fuckin’ job interviews, which sucks because the shrapnel in his ass is givin’ him chronic hemorroids. And meanwhile he’s starvin’ ’cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they’re servin’ is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State.
So what did I think? I’m holdin’ out for somethin’ better. I figure, fuck it, while I’m at it, why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.
Now who’s to say that any of that wouldn’t happen, but it takes a mind like that to think of those possibilities. Is he sabotaging a chance at happiness?
Now being a simpleton has it’s perks and dirts as well. (And by simpleton, I mean, SIMPLE-ton). I mean, you’d be theoretically a dumbass. Learning would be hard, and more than likely you’d never have a job that had any merit or purpose. Holding a conversation with anyone remotely above your intelligence level would be downright impossible, leaving you feeling like you are swimming in an ocean with numerous sharks and chicks on their period.
But would you be happier? Maybe you’re such a simpleton that you wouldn’t even notice the glares of annoyance at your ignorance. Maybe you’d be so simple that you don’t care about the world’s issues and just live your life day to say in the simplest way possible. Start and end each day with a smile. Maybe find a simpleton husband or wife and have simpleton kids.
I get torn between the two. I struggle with my competitive nature, and I love to learn. But I also over analyze things and find myself stepping in the way of my own happiness because my brain won’t stop churning.
What about you? If you could chose to be a genius or a simpleton, NOTHING in between, what would you chose? Why? Feel free to leave your thoughts below!