Thursday, July 3, 2008

Unintelligent or Simply Impractical?

A recent experience caused me to reflect on the different between intelligence and practicality. Is it simply knowing a great deal that qualifies a person for the 'intelligent' adjective? And is practicality the ability to put to use whatever amount, small or large, of knowledge one possesses?

I am currently vacationing on the sunny beaches of Southern California, sunny being the operative word. Now, at the risk of throwing any semblance of humility out the window, I consider myself to be an 'intelligent' person, and as such I know that when exposed to large amounts of sunnyness, certain reactions are likely to occur on one's skin. I also know, as any smart person does, that there is a certain lotion-like substance that is made to help prevent this uncomfortably red reaction caused by exposure to invisible UVA and UVB rays. Sounding pretty intelligent so far? 

However, looking at the oh-so-flattering picture at right, would you guess that I possessed such large amounts of knowledge about sun exposure? Unlikely. However, does the fact that I completely disregarded smart sun behavior make me unintelligent or simply impractical? I would argue that the knowledge is still there, and thus I still deserve the 'intelligent' adjective. The extremely unusual red and white stripyness, which caused one cousin to inform me that I look like Neopolitan Ice Cream without the brown, and caused one uncle to insist that my strange skin phenomena be documented through the taking of numerous pictures, and caused my five year-old brother to ban me from applying his sunscreen ever again.... this unusual coloring is simply a result of a lack of practicality. Now, whether intelligence or practicality is the more desirable trait is debatable. I am happy with being intelligent but a little bit of practicality sure would have saved me some pain.