The old jokes are the best, eh?
Intelligence is a thing to be celebrated. When the man in charge of the most powerful country in the world is almost wilfully ignorant (in both the literal sense of the word, and in its local usage meaning rude and inconsiderate), it's worth saying. Intelligence, a characteristic which Trump would no doubt credit himself as having in excess, is praiseworthy. It's not something you are just born with, either. There may (I perhaps ought to go stronger and say 'there will') be heritable genetic factors, as indeed there will be factors outside the control of any given individual that contribute. But you can tell who bothers to hone their mind, questioning and thinking, as against people who are content with what they've already got. A remark overheard at a falconry display earlier this week ('He kept trying to teach us things!') is a clear example. Show me the birds, get them doing something spectacular, and don't try to tell me any of the things you know about them, because I don't care.
I'm not necessarily sure intelligence is really compatible with happiness, though. There's a quotation that runs "happiness is being content with what you have..." It continues, of course ("living in freedom and liberty, having a good family life and good friends."), but that first bit is the significant bit. Intelligence, certainly of the sort I am pointing to here, sits very much at odds with contentment with what you have (in your mind). The writer means, I think, contentment with what you have materially, and of course that sentiment is on the right lines. People who constantly strive for the next upgrade (of whatever possession) are neither content, nor, it seems from the outside, happy. But those of us who find the need to strive for the next upgrade of what is in our minds do not rest easy, because there is always something else to be learned, understood, mulled over. For some people, the inability to switch off is cruel, denying satisfying sleep, any kind of peaceful waking, any kind of peace at all. A lot of nonsense is written and spoken about mindfulness, but there is a kernel of truth in amongst all the lentil-weaving. Sleep and peaceful waking are both incredibly restorative, therapeutic even for those not explicitly in need of therapy. A lack of either can be a terrible punishment. Worry - it's called, apparently, 'rumination' in the literature, which is ironic because I suspect that cud-chewing cows do not suffer from this - is a sort of self-fulfilling state, in which the initial content of the worry, whether harmless or genuinely problematic, becomes replaced by a process of repeated going over of the same ground. The worry itself is almost secondary to the process of worrying in terms of the danger and the damage. And worry can rob people of their peace, whether waking or when trying to go to sleep. So, dear reader, let me wish you as your reward for reading this post a few minutes of peace of one sort or another! My own wrestle with Edward Strelley at the moment is, as it has been for some time, to get him to do anything worthwhile, rather than ruminate. I have even had to resort to a slight change of storyline (keep an eye out on here!) to get him moving. He would - on a good day at least - have appreciated the Sam Cooke's A levels joke. But his good days are few, far between, and generally limited to moments rather than days.
Let's also have a moment to remember the incomparable Aretha Franklin, a woman of absolute prowess. According to her wikipedia entry, she was also a chain-smoker until 1992, which information is somewhat unexpected. She was capable of creating those spine-tingling (a cliche, of course, but appropriate here) moments of brilliance that reach out and touch you, that leave you somehow more human as a result.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought