How Smart?

“No, I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested.” -Young Sheldon

Curious about their withdrawn intelligent child, our parents had Jon take the IQ test in fourth grade when he was ten years old. He did very well, missed just one, and that was due to context. Our homeschooling mother said it was her fault for not yet schooling him on who Anne Frank was. We never knew Jon’s exact IQ, because about three quarters of the way through the test, he got up and walked out of the room. “I’m tired of sitting down,” he announced, “I’m done.”

The proctors reviewed his results and time, guesstimating Jon was in the 160 range. So? How smart is that? I had to look it up. Guess who else got a 160 on their test? Albert Einstein. And someone you may know named Stephen Hawking. Jon was in the genius sub percentile at just ten years old.

People with exceptionally high IQs like that often process information differently. Jon used to tell me he didn’t want to get a driver’s license because it was too exhausting having that information thrust at him, too much momentum in the possible equations. (Variables such as, damage report if that man steps into the road, if that car swerves now, if it swerves two seconds later, at a 13 degree angle, at a 20 degree angle etc.) His mind was reeling trying to keep up with the math, his eyes couldn’t stay on the road and notice if light was yellow.

Once, in a kitchen in Kihei, Jon explained to me the math he had been working on – quantum mathematics. Looking at String theory in a new way to prove the Big Bang theory using matrices — rectangular grids of mathematical expressions that describe the properties of the universe, and dimensions upon dimensions within the universe built of subatomic particles. He tried to explain it to me, and define quarks in simple terms too. I will be honest, I could follow for a few minutes, but the theory and math built upon themselves so many times that my mind started to loose the beginning fringes of it. “Basically, Sis, it’s as though all possible outcomes are happening simultaneously in each moment and in all moments of the past, interwoven. And all of that, all of this,” he picked up a jar of honey, “is really just a hologram, it’s not real.” I could wrap my mind around that. But I was too attached. Even if I’m in just one of the infinitely exponentially expanding universes, which is all holographic, perceived as real solely because my mind assigns meaning; I like the joy I find in thinking this is real, that I can affect it positively in some way. I hugged him, thanked him for being so brilliant and told him if this was all a hologram, I was happy to have him in mine.

Last week, my husband and I had dinner with the man who was Jon’s dive buddy in his Advanced Open Water Scuba Class and Rescue Diver course, Joel from Las Vegas. We cried, we laughed, remembering how Jon wasn’t forthcoming with anything about his mind’s innerworkings to Joel. Jon was not what you’d call a morning person, we have that in common, and he was silent as we set up gear. So Joel would say, every morning of the class, “Now Jon, you’ve got to quiet down. I can’t get a word in edgewise with you.” Jon would just look up and smile. And say nothing.

“He was how smart?” Joel asked, when I told him the story about my brother walking out of the IQ test.

Then Joel told us something we, as instructors of the classes did not know. He would wait for Jon to do the skill, and watch how he set it up, before copying him, because Jon always had good ideas, and a thoughtful approach.

I told Joel about this blog. About my idea to spread kindness, to make a positive difference in the lives of others, especially those down on their luck in Jon’s honor. I told him how Jon saw everyone as humans, as an extension of himself, and would not make fun of anyone downtrodden, not even a raving lunatic having a episode on the side of the road because “we all slip from our personal best sometimes.” I told Joel about Alex, the sad stranger I had seen on the side of the road and felt moved to offer conversation, hope and chocolate to. I shared with Joel that I intended to be on my game, open to feeling out where my donations of clothing, food, time, coffee, or assistance could best be received, acting when I felt drawn to help others.

Joel sat back, pointed to the sun setting over Napili Bay. I thought immediately of how Jon often walked down here to snorkel with sea turtles as Joel announced, “I’m inspired. I’m gonna go home and take your idea with me. When I see the homeless guy who frequents our area, I’m going to take him to lunch.” Now, Joel is a good man of his honor, I know he will.

There go the ripples. Put goodness out there and it extends out. They say we never truly know how far our actions radiate. Perhaps, like souls, like the dimensions upon dimensions exponentially expanding, that I really couldn’t show you mathematically, they are infinite.

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