By Geoffrey Hoppe
Published in the September 2014 Shaumbra Magazine
I came from a smart family. My father was brilliant and creative. At a very young age he was an executive at a successful advertising agency. My mother was a model student in her school days and a gifted writer. I have six siblings, and most of them are very talented and highly intelligent.
As a young boy I remember wishing that I wasn’t smart. How strange, now that I think back to this. Who wouldn’t want to be smart? I was an “A” student from 1st grade all the way through 10th grade. I didn’t study very hard yet was able to keep good grades.
But then I got my wish. I stopped being smart. I stopped striving for accomplishment. At the age of 16 I stopped caring and stopped trying. Why? Because I looked around at the smart people in my life and decided I didn’t want to be like them. My smart father was an alcoholic. My smart mother was deep into suffering. My smart older brother hated everything. I got my wish. My grades fell into the toilet, and I didn’t want to go to college if it meant ending up like the smart people. Instead, I joined the Army at age 17 and took the first bus out of my small hometown. Perhaps, just perhaps, was there a world out there where smart didn’t mean anything, and one could actually experience life in a joyful way?
Luck (or perhaps the guiding hand of Spirit) found me the best job one could imagine in the Army. At 18 years of age I was assigned to NASA, shipped off to California in the mid-70s, had my own apartment in what is now Silicon Valley, and learned a lot in my job as a technical writer. I met a lot of people who weren’t smart by intellectual standards, but were amazing humans.
I didn’t go to college after my three years in the Army. Well, I actually did go for three days but simply could not stand the Halls of Arrogant Intelligence in the university environment. Besides, the university wanted me to take Journalism 101 after I had been writing articles for professional aeronautic magazines for 3 years.
I had no desire to be smart if it meant sacrificing common sense, compassion, heart, feelings and the simple joy of life – or having to figure it out. I landed a couple of good jobs after my honorable discharge from the Army (including receiving the Army Commendation Award). In my early and mid 20’s, socializing with business peers meant that questions of university pedigree often came up. Mouths dropped when I said I never went to college. On the surface I was slightly embarrassed, but underneath I knew I didn’t want to be smart. Continue reading