I felt like such an idiot. I know, Rick told me I shouldn't. How would I have known, anyway? We haven't taken the newspaper in over 5 years and even when we did, we never checked the obituaries because, well, in our 30's why would we? But I still felt silly, and that little voice that told me to call last week has been saying "see? you should have done it!" all day.
Oh well, at least I didn't email him a copy of his own obituary. I did do that once and have to say that was more embarassing. At least I remembered the note to myself from that incident today: Update the email group list BEFORE you forward the message.
I won't lie to you - I'm one of those people that was heavy on the book sense and light on the common sense growing up. I was teased endlessly about it. In fact, I know the reason I get irritated with older people being helpless and getting duped is because these were the very same people that were telling me I needed to "wise up to the ways of the world or all that education isn't gonna do you a bit of good in the real world" 15-20 years ago. I graduated in the top of my high school class and graduated college with honors, but learning to drive was hell for me - so much so that Dad sat me down and had a talk with me about how I had to learn to drive because there's no public transit in this town, and "functional adults drive." It really was awful. On top of struggling with common sense I'm also helplessly clumsy, and getting coordinated enough to drive - it took me about a year to get it. Yea, a year. My friends got their permit and were driving like pros after 2-3 months, and it took me a year. And even longer to do it well, without scaring the hell out of everybody in the car with me. Don't even ask me abou the abuse I took for it too, especially in driver's ed. The teacher made no bones about the fact that I might be a whiz in the classroom, but he thought I was a dumbass in the real world. He really was a jerk, by the way. As were my classmates. But thankfully I'm too old for teen angst. I did grow up. And I did grow some sense too.
I credit three things with this: Marriage, home ownership, and a job in a regulatory agency. Those three things will give you plenty of experiences that lend to wisdom very quickly. Relationships take work - more than you ever realize! Home ownership is a huge responsibility that requires a certain amount of organization, practicality, and saavy. And a job working with applying legislation to real life? That will stretch your brain, because you spend as much time blockading the people looking to exploit every loophole as you do applying it to the cooperative people/situations. I still have my moments - like emailing dead people - but my peers and colleagues have them too, and we aren't embarassed about it. In fact, things like this just help you get wiser.
I think this is why I'm always putting the characters in my novels in situations where they have the book smarts but not the "street smarts" to know what to do when their conflict arises. Part of the journey that every one of my protagonists have gone through is a realization that others don't share their knowledge/beliefs/morals and they have to decide what to do about it. Many of their journies have paralleled my own and I believe it's because they're issues that all of us face at one point or another. Because eventually life is going to take that unexpected turn, and we have to decide whether to fight it, accept it, or mine it for possibilities that we might not have planned for but are willing to accept as greater opportunity. Or we'll have to deal with people doing something against our morals because it's easier than doing what's right, and they're going to ridicule us as an idealist if we don't go along with the game (or worse yet, agree to take the blame if it all falls apart - yep, I've been there). Or we'll have to decide if we want to step out and take a chance on achieving a dream, or let the fear of failure keep us stuck in place. And we all have to decide - are we willing to work hard to make our dreams come true and make some sacrifices, or will we stay where we are, hoping somebody or something will come along to give us a "big break"? Because, as a colleague said last week, nothing in life is free, except God's love and the DMV manual. And some ebooks in the public domain and written by generous independent authors.
I'm not sure where the DMV manual came from - perhaps because she had a daughter getting ready to apply for her driver's permit. But anyway ...
I will agree that common sense is important, but I'm still one that believes that the "education and experience" work together. The book sense gives you the foundation you need. Because we all know that life isn't fair, and that the unexpected happens, and that sometimes people just don't like you, and that if something can go wrong then it will, and at the worst possible time. The Bible even says "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." (Ecclesiastes 9:11) These truths we know - but it's wisdom that tells us what to do when we actually face these situations. What do you do when you're passed over for the promotion? What do you do when somebody asks you to alter this or that financial report 'just a little?' What do you do when a friend betrays you and throws you under the bus for a mistake they made, but they lied and made it look like you did it? What do you do when you're on a date and the guy yells the cop that pulled him over for speeding, which sets off that voice in your head that says "geez, he has a temper. I'm not comfortable being around him?" And then he asks you out on another date and you don't want to go, but he's already been pissed off once tonight and you're afraid to say no? Book smarts tell you it CAN happen. Common sense tells you what to do when it DOES happen.
And in closing - yes, I did have someone send a message to a dead person in one of my novels. It happened in Splinter, which will be released through Whiskey Creek Press next year. Tune in for that and more fictionalized shenanagins in the ongoing progression of my writing.
That's all today. Have a great week.