Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The fine line

I'm not sure if it's a result of becoming a bit (note: I did say a bit) older and maybe wiser (again, a bit) but I am having a little trouble distinguishing between what I think is stupid and what I think is brave.
Who knew that there was such an intimate relationship between stupidity and bravery?

Stupidity is the act of having little to no quickness of the mind, due esp. to lack of sense or knowledge.
Bravery is the act of facing something courageously, and enduring it.

Now, you tell me that these two aren't intrinsically related!? It would seem you would need one in order to have the other, at least in any circumstance that involved major risk, such as, let's pull from an old classic, falling in love.

Yeah, you heard me. I went there; falling in love.

More specifically, falling in love at my age after several disastrous relationships with infidel academics (oh yes, people, I did find the panties under the bed, condom wrapper, you name it. I guess he thought that since I was 5 months pregnant I couldn't see the floor), one self-immolating marriage, and groping around at the bottom of a bottomless swamp for the last 10 months. Giant cliched walls have gone up, there are no doors for folks to get through, the windows are too high to really see what's going on inside, the mama bear is foaming at the mouth trying to protect her cubs at all costs, food is scarce, you get the point. In a place like this, love is a luxury.

So is stupidity.

And yet, we do it. Over and over again, stepping over the burning damage of the last wrecked boat (maybe reciting a Blake poem), looking for the near-open rose on the battlefield. And this is where stupidity takes a front seat...or bravery. It is the thing that tells us, when we see the rose, our scars throbbing as we approach it, to set down the gun. To take the helmet off in deference to the sight before us. To untether the magazines from our chest and breath.

I guess, in that moment, it is neither brave nor stupid. What determines either is what happens directly after that. If you get 45 rounds to the chest, I suppose it's stupidity. If sniper fire whizzes by your head and the Claymore goes off just near enough to splatter mud on your face...and then you retrieve the rose, it must be bravery.

The risk, every single time, is in the not-knowing.

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