Live by your wits, until you get the flu
I live by my wits. Maybe not like a hunter in the woods, but I have to be constantly aware of my environment, assess it, and react quickly. And when I get the flu, which makes it impossible to think, I realize just how much I use my wits every day.
The flu I'm coming out of right now wasn't a throwing up flu, but it was a lie in bed immobile for three days flu. Talking would aggravate my cough, which felt like shards of glass tumbling around my trachea. Reading was rough because holding a book, even the Kindle, took an awful lot of effort (I woke up more than once with the Kindle in my chest, my cell phone and the remote on one side, and a cat on the other -- should have been a robotic cat for symmetry). TV is terrible, but when your brain is non-functional, it's amazing how much more palatable it can be.
The times I felt like I was actually getting better, I would wander downstairs to my computer and pretend to work. I'd last about 10 minutes, five of which were spent with me figuring out that I was WAY to sick to be sitting up and I really couldn't operate the keyboard, let alone read and respond to correspondence.
There was a minor emergency Monday morning that only I could deal with -- one of those stupid programming things that was easier for me to fix than for someone else to figure out. You see, there's the brain thing… It's not that it was that easy for me to fix in my stupefied state, it was that I don't think I could have really explained it to someone else in my stupefied state, let alone provide appropriate passwords and server access.
I watched a lot of movies in my feverish haze and noticed a funny thing about movies -- you never see James Bond with the flu. Even when he's been beaten, shot, and thrown out a fourth floor window, he still manages to have his wits about him and come up with the clever trick that saves the day. Personally, I think I would probably just lie on the pavement moaning. Not a pretty sight, but probably an honest one.
Sure, there are those times we rally, but simply adding a line of code to a website to make it go live was like struggling through Dr. No's secret labyrinth and hacking into a system secured by a 16 bit hexadecimal password -- which Bond seems to be able to do with one arm dangling uselessly from his side.
And that's what I think separates fiction from reality more than anything else (aside from the absence toilets, that is). There are simply times that we can't rally. There are times we don't have enough brain power to put the orange juice back in the fridge, let alone solve the world's problems.
The problem is that if you live by your wits, you die by your witlessness and there are times you're going to be a witless wonder, no matter how clever you are.