An Idiot’s Tale

By Ted Gargiulo – I just now polished off my latest article and submitted it to a local publication. Bravo, Ted! A most impressive accomplishment! Today I feel potent, fulfilled, in control of my craft again. I’ve rejoined the ranks of the mighty. I’m a victor, an achiever, a literary mensch. Yet only yesterday, while I was still chipping away at my writer’s block, still striving to beat sense into a seemingly senseless endeavor, this author felt like an idiot.

How did I suddenly jump from shlep to hero? Am I not the same person today that I was yesterday? What caused this crucial shift in perspective?

It was the gratification of ushering another brainchild into the world. It was knowing that the entity I’d spawned, regardless of its merit (or lack thereof), was perfectly realized, uniquely my own. It was observing my wife’s reaction when she read the piece, the way she nodded and chuckled in all the right places and showered me with praise. Hearing my dearest, most honest critic affirm that I am, indeed, the gifted wordsmith she’s always known me to be never fails to rekindle my self-esteem.

Did this masterpiece materialize overnight? Hardly. It took hours of fruitless fiddling, rethinking, rearranging, reworking the same batch of lame, disconnected sketches over and over—huffing, cursing, resisting the urge to quit, driving myself mad—to bring this darling to birth. Truth is, the ingredients for today’s success were in place the whole while I was gnashing my teeth over the blame thing. For all my lofty pretensions, my prodigy owes its life to an idiot, whose thankless toil and tenacity produced the harvest for which the would-be master now assumes credit.

You see, the real drama takes place, not on the written page, but in that cerebral theater I carry inside me, for that is where the most vicious battles are waged. It’s as though the arrogance of success, coupled with the fear of failure, compels me to create an unworthy sub-ego that my nobler super-self can dump on. From the small-of-heart to the swell-of-head: such is the story of my story. The master forgets what it was like to feel like an idiot. The idiot cannot imagine, nor recall, that sweet savor of achievement his counterpart currently enjoys. Furthermore, the surge of confidence the author relishes today, will elude him tomorrow when he’s back in the trenches, slamming his head against that old proverbial block.

The moral? Said master would do well to encourage said idiot while he’s thrashing about in the dark, help him confront his demons. Why not reveal himself in a vision (dream, pillar of smoke, etc.), maybe utter something prophetic like, “Fear not, for I am your future…take up your pen (or keyboard) and follow me!” In turn, said idiot should admonish said master not to think too highly of himself, lest his bloated expectations make the idiot’s hurdles more daunting than they already are.

Would the proposed alliance resolve my conflict? Not likely. But it does make for a clever (if idiotic) story. And now, thankfully, it’s finished!

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