Are You This Smart?

They said put your hand on this barbecue, it will be ok.

So I did. I still have the burn. I ran home crying. My parents came out and asked the boys, “who told him to do this?” I was five years old. They all said, “He did it himself.” So my dad hit me.

Two wounds for being stupid.

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten any smarter. Maybe the only thing I’ve really learned: don’t be around bad people.

You get wounded when you are around bad people.

Another thing maybe I’ve learned: don’t be afraid. Fear will never solve tomorrow’s problems and will only take away strength from solving today’s problems.

There’s always problems. No matter how smart. Every day there’s a new delivery in the morning of problems. I can hide in bed and try to avoid them but eventually they will creep in and try to remove the cover.

Oh, maybe another thing I learned, but it took a long time and I’m still learning it: don’t dwell on past mistakes.

I can’t speak for you – but I’ve made mistakes. I can learn from them of course, but then it’s time to move on. Dwelling on them will keep me in the past. Being anxious about them will trap me in he wrong future.

I want to stay in the present. So I can solve my problems right now.

This video is of a boy who is smart because bad things have happened to him in the past. He’s not in a good situation right now. And the future is scary and unknown.

But right at that moment, he makes the smartest possible decision he can make. So smart I am sure I would never have had the presence of mind to make that decision.

One decision, one action. he saves a dozen lives.

Every day I can notice: am I dwelling in the past, am I anxious about the future, am I making decisions out of fear, am I around bad people?

If the answer to any of these is “yes” then I try to turn it into a “no”.

Then maybe one day I will be as smart as the boy in this video.

  • trololol

    Not sure how to change my user name that I’ve had since last year, but my name is Joseph, and I’m recently widowed with four young children under the age of 12. I am practicing living in the “now” and not worrying beyond what I’ll make for dinner and whether the kids will fight with me over doing their homework. I chose to learn how to freestyle swim at the local health center a month after my wife passed away, and have just reached the point where I can swim more than one lap without stopping. I choose to eat clean because I need to be as alert as possible, especially on days when I am deep in grief. I am taking a long view approach of my finances because I subsist solely off my disability benefits from the Veterans Administration due to my service as a Marine in the Iraq war. You blog helps reinforce the mental and physical structure I’m attempting to build (and maintain). Most importantly, I’m writing because I submitted a question to your podcast, but I have little way of knowing whether it will be addressed. Thanks for being intentional with your thoughts, and for sharing them with the rest of us.
    – Joe

    • trololol

      Also- my situation pales in comparison to the scenario presented in the “Schindlers List” clip- would that I could possess such courage in similar circumstances.

    • Thomas Dotson


      God! I was just feeling sorry for my pitiful weak self then read your post. Thank you for being so strong and setting an example for the rest of us.

  • Thank you for sharing this. We are the average of the people we are around anddddddd not one single thing in the history of man was accomplished by dwelling on the past and the mistakes.

  • Ron Last

    The correct response should have been all those prisoners rushing the guards and taking out as many as possible. Especially that officer.

    If every inmate did that in every prison camp, and if everyone did that as they were being arrested or sent to the camps, there would be no prison camps and tyranny would wither on the vine for lack of bad people.

    Would have saved millions of lives.

    Just saying.

    • Allison Siegel

      Ummm, I think you miss the point of this article. Its not about the past that we cannot change or the fact that you believe that the people would’ve been able to rush the guards. Its this statement in the article “This video is of a boy who is smart because bad things have happened to him in the past. He’s not in a good situation right now. And the future is scary and unknown.

      But right at that moment, he makes the smartest possible decision he can make.”

      You make that choice and do your best to make it the smartest. In him choosing the already dead man he saved the lives of all o the other people that would not talk and in turn be themselves killed.

  • Peaceful Warrior

    Amazing ….thank you so much for pouring out the harsh reality with simple yet powerful solutions

  • My barbeque experience was holding onto the spark plug of my neighbors lawn mower when a few neighborhood kids pulled the crank. 20,000 volts later I ran home as well.

    The Nazi’s were evil incarnate. The more frightening thing is that many of those guards were just regular people before war. A chilling book on that subject is Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning. Is everyone capable of unspeakable evil if put in the same circumstance?

    That boy is braver than anyone I can imagine.