Big brother’s wisdom:
I have had many treasures in my life.  The four I have valued above all others have been two parents and two brothers.  Once as I child I asked my big brother a question.

I have always idolized him.  He knew amazing things.  I was once chatting with a professional beekeeper. I mentioned “white faced bees.”  That drew a blank look.  It came from something that happened when I was about three.  Big brother came into the kitchen with bees all over his arms.  Mother, the most unflappable of humankind was taken a bit aback and said, “You have bees on your arms!”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You’ll get stung.”

“No ma’am.  These are white faced bees.  They don’t sting.” 

I learned the story a few years later.  Then skip forward a couple of decades to when some friends and I arrived by sailboat on the outer banks of Maryland.  We strolled about the town, explored the museum, looked at a live beehive behind a large plate of glass, and I then examined a big poster that showed maybe a dozen species of bees: queen, drone and worker of each species.  Behold, every kind of drone had a spot of white on head or back.  None of the others did.  Big brother’s point was made.  But the professional beekeeper did not know.

I think it must have been because he was so sociable.  He would engage anybody in conversation and lead them out on any special knowledge they had, and this from the time he was a young child.

Of course I simply thought he was omniscient, so any important question went to him.  This was one.

“I seem to work a lot harder at being me than the other boys do.  They make it look easy to be them.  Some are smart, some good looking, some good athletes, some bullies.  But whatever it is it seems to come naturally.  Nothing comes naturally to me.  When the class runs a race I come in last.  Of course I can run anybody down one on one.  But I have to concentrate on it.  I work a lot harder at schoolwork than boys who make better grades.  The teachers seem to think well of me, but they don’t know how hard it is for me to work at it at all.  I’d rather loaf.”

“Yes, I know.”

I did not bring up the fact that when my brain cranked up it would do things other brains didn’t seem to do at all.  Several years later in junior high school I found that the science department had thrown a lot of electronic equipment in the trash.  It was fabulously archaic even then.  The parts were huge.  They would have been wonderful for showing a class exactly what a capacitor (we called them condensers back then) was and how it worked and what the parts of a vacuum tube were; looking at a microchip doesn’t help much with the principle of operation.  So I got a buddy to help me and we stole the lot.  We hauled it back to my house and built a huge ungainly electronic contraption worthy of Frankenstein’s lab.  I explained it was a World Ender.  You touched this button and the world, nay the whole universe, flashed out of existence.  But when it did the World Ender vanished as well.  So after a time, say a couple of thousand years, it all came back just as it was.  So it seemed as if nothing had happened. 

You see what a mean. Dratted nuisance lugging around a brain with that kind of stuff going on.

“So what’s the point of being me?  Sure, I can do things.  But I can’t do twice as much as another bright person.  And for them it seems so painless.  What can I do that’s worth being so different?”

“What about telling the truth?”

Well that was enough to ponder for a lifetime.  All I can say is that I do my best.

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