Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I had this week's Newsweek with me as the three of us traveled from waiting at the doctor's office to waiting at the hospital. Its Sharon Begley cover story: "31 Ways to Get Smarter—Faster." Its premise? IQ is elastic; it can be advanced.
I quote: "According to a groundbreaking study published this fall in Nature, IQ can rise by a staggering 21 points over four years—or fall by 18."
Oh, yes. I forgot to mention. IQ can also fall.
While we waited for our son's name to be called, we reviewed the full list of IQ advancers: Play word puzzles with friends. Get news from Al Jazeera. Go to a literary festival. Build a "Memory Palace." Learn a language. Wipe the smile off your face (!). Eat yogurt. See a Shakespeare play. Hydrate. Visit MOMA. Drink red wine (in moderation) and eat dark chocolate.
Sleep. A lot.
Toss your Smartphone.
Write in long hand.
And did I mention dance?
So much of this is common sense. So many of these things I already do. But convictions grow while sitting in a hospital surrounded by people whose circumstances are far worse than one's own. The misplaced New Year's resolution comes into sharper focus. And besides, I cannot afford to lose a single IQ point. It would be nice to acquire a few.
I had been thinking about ways to rearrange my life; we talked about that while we waited. I have yearned for a quieter path—one less noisy with obligation. I want fewer distractions, stiller waters. It seems to me that spending less time on this computer and more time with pen and paper will help me get there. It seems important to know who my friends are—my true friends—and to spend my time with them, on them. It seems appropriate to leave my phone at home more often or, at least, to ignore the unessential messages until they become essential; some of them, amazingly, never actually do. It seems about time for me to finally learn my husband's language—Spanish—so that I can speak to my mother-in-law after her own fashion. It seems that I do just have to say no sometimes—and hope that others will understand. And if they don't, if they need more than I can give—it seems appropriate to be okay with that.
It's a new year. It's only one life.
I wasn't the only one who sat there thinking.