I’ve been accused of many things. Some – if not most - manifesting to the big difference between ‘waving my arms shouting big ideas’ and the actual delivery of these crowd pleasing promises. But yesterday I was blind sided by something tangential with a heartfelt “You have No Common Sense whatsoever“* being dropped into a pit of quite ego-stroking flattery.
What struck me most was the assertion that us Right-Brained “Look out of the Window and make something up” types can not – and should not – belittle our cerebral creativeness with the desultory drudgery of everyday tasks such as remembering how door handles work.
This bothered me a little because I’ve always craved the heavy competence that comes with practicality, but when God was handing out those kind of skills, I was accidentally setting fire to an Angel. So let’s examine the weighty term “Common Sense” shall we as, from my analysis, it is neither very common nor entirely bedded in sense.
First definition is all about practicality especially in the face of a crisis. Take, for example, when our state of the art heating system morphed to state of the ark when pissing mains pressure hot water down the sitting room wall. I was your shrieking Joe Pesci to Carol’s unflappable Danny Glover but afterwards I was the voice of calm whilst the remainder of the family refused to accept that one crap joint does not put canoe building at the top of your agenda for “Things to do at 1am in the morning”
So if it’s not all doing the right thing when everyone else is considering the benefits of personal explosion, maybe the focus should shift to an all round excellence in the shed. Common Sense is merely outstanding tool usage and the genetic ability to bevel. I’ve met people like this who can turn their hand to absolutely anything; wood into furniture, metal into cars, electronics into weapons and these people all have a name. It’s engineer and frankly they shouldn’t be allowed outside without a minder and a a translater.
Flip side is the practical types who can explain – to the point of eye-forking tedium – how stuff works, but let them within three metres of a power tool and there’s a good chance the world will end. And not in a good way. So I’m no closer to what ‘Common Sense’ may be unless it’s something a little less aspirational. Are we talking about choosing to mitigate risk when considering reward? Is it saying “no” when “yes” might be quite a lot more fun? Especially if whipped cream and one of the Mynogue’s may be involved.
I hope so. Because – at 42 – I’m pretty well set on not dying wondering. Most of my biggest mistakes** resulted from an impulsiveness that treasures a quick hit over a long term benefit. A cheap laugh rather than sparing a feeling. 30 seconds of stupidity instead of choosing a line better suited to my skills. A “Fuck it, that’ll go” rather than a week in Hospital. Twenty seconds of bullshit over 20 hours of research. Maybe Common Sense is nothing more than understanding you can be stupid or lazy, but not both.
You see I’m starting to find Common sense, well, a little dull. Let’s look at another human attribute shall we? For example being Brave, which I’ve always associated with a lack of imagination and a DNA lacking the mortality gene. But you will never feel more alive than when wrapping cowardice in a bravery straitjacket and trusting life to something other than stuff that you know is unlikely to kill you.
Common Sense starts to feel like being old. A good mate of mine was 40 years old at the age of sixteen. He’s not changed much in twenty five years except for a big house and even larger wine cellar. He is the personification of common sense; not dull, not boring just happy with his lot and plug-wiringly competent. He cannot understand, never mind answer, my question “Is this it then? Is this as good as it gets, is this ENOUGH?”
Stop being a dick Al he tells me. You’re not an astronaut and you never will me, but you’re luckier than most people. Get a grip, don’t shoot for the moon, disappointment is omnipresent. It’s out there waiting for you to fuck up. Stop wondering about what could be, and enjoy what you have. Now that sounds to me like common sense.
I’ll give it a miss thanks. While I can scare myself shitless on my bike, chuck toy gliders over landscape that feel like CGI, convince my kids that at least one of them is related to an elephant and make people laugh at me or with me, I’m not very interested in conformity, acceptance or death by a thousand cuts.
I am thinking of this as Uncommon sense and I hope you can join me in raising a toast to its’ two fingered salute at this ever more regulated world.
* Not Carol. She worked that out LONG AGO. About ten minutes after we met probably.
** I’ve asked my archivist, and she tells me this is true. Although there’s a few thousand examples to consider.