Why Simon is the smartest man I know

When stumbling about in the world we live in, one can occasionally get a sense of being treated unfairly — sometimes it’s just all too overwhelming. I, for one, have found myself justifying self pity in way more than one occasion. Then there is Simon, and here is why he has changed my point of view on life.

My friend Simon has dyslexia. My friend Simon has dyscalculia. My friend Simon is the smartest person I know.

It may seem like a paradox that he only has a very faint understanding of letters, words and numbers, and yet is the smartest person I know. How this paradox makes sense, you will understand after having read the next couple of paragraphs.

I can’t remember when I first met Simon. I do remember though, that he was the first one to get me drunk, and that is way more important.

His mom worked as a kindergarten teacher alongside my mom. His dad played in a rockband alongside my dad. Everything was perfectly aligned for the two of us to become friends, or pals as he would say, and so we did.

I always knew that I was quite a bit ahead of him, in regard to anything school related, even if he was two years older than me. I wasn’t aware that I should never underestimate how much he could teach me.

Simon quickly showed skills within the world of music. His understanding of instruments is so far beyond that of any one else I know. He is the kind of guy who looks at an instrument and once he works out how to produce sound, he will be years ahead of mostly any one else. That is an agonizingly frustrating skill, for anyone who doesn’t possess it. What makes it even worse, and what really provoke a bit of a loudmouth like me, is his complete lack of interest in showing the world what he is capable of. I learned to accept his way of not wanting to boast his skills. I even tried to copy it, then I failed at copying it.

In the summer of 2002 I eavesdropped on a phonecall between Simons mom and my own. Tragically she, Simon mom, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I did not think much of it at this point, because I had the mind of a naive 13-year-old. In my mind, she was such a nice and giving person. How could anything bad happen to her? She went through Kemo-theraphy and she got better until she got worse.

Simon had two older brothers. His oldest brother was a pretty awesome guy. He played the guitar, rode a motorcycle and always looked like something out of a movie - unfortunately I never really got to know him. In early 2003 he was killed in a barfight. Having tried to shield a younger female from her crazed ex-boyfriend, he was struck twice in the back of his head with a bottle, leaving him with a cerebral hemorrhage. He was proclaimed dead, when the ambulance arrived. Far more people than I’d expected showed up at the funeral — not even half was able to fit in the church. It dawned on me, that Simon’s older brother was for many others, far more than just Simon’s older brother.

It was a devastating blow to the family and they entered a tough time. What happend next only served to push the family further to the ground. Simon’s mom died in the beginning of the summer in 2003. The cancer had spread too much and she lost the battle.

I remember my family paying our respect to Simon, his dad and his older brother. The atmosphere was strange in their little house and I remember wanting to cry but couldn’t, no one else was, it seemed they had run out of tears.

I continued to visit Simon a couple of times a week. Despite my obvious lack of skill within the field of mechanics, we did some work on an old Ford his dad had bought for him. We played a little Playstation, listened to music and watched movies.

Now I don’t know how you feel about ineffective people within a field you master, but I know that I can be quite intolerant. Simon on the other hand, has never once mentioned my lacking skills within the fields he mastered. It was an unfamiliar thought to me, but so uncommonly relaxing a thought, an attitude I have a hard time finding anywhere else.

In the summer of 2005 disaster strikes again. Our home phone rings and in the other end of the line I hear Simon’s neighbor, who through a voice thick with tears tell me, that Simon’s father had been found dead at his work. He was struck by a heart attack and no one had been there to help him. Unable to grasp the situation, I numbly put down the phone, put on shoes and start walking.

Having no real sense of where I was going, I find myself somewhat surprised standing in front of Simon’s house. Sitting on the doorstep is Simon and his brother, staring into the ground.

Desperately trying to come up with something to say, I end up concluding that nothing I could say would amount to the seriousness of the situation, so I merely nod in their general direction and sit down on the grass next to them.

After a while Simon looks at me, a smile quirking up on the side of his mouth and a single tear clinging to his jaw. He then proceeds to calmly say a sentence, that will never leave me.

“You know what Sebastian? It’s almost as though I’m getting used to people dying around me”

Never have I felt anything like the emotion that hit me at that moment. How could it be fair that anyone in the world could actually say that sentence, and be right.

Now, here is what is most astonishing about all of this. Last sunday I sat in Simon’s garden, drinking a beer with Simon and his brother. Simon’s brother found himself a girlfriend and proceeded to marry her — they now have 3 kids, that is three new lifes. Simon lives next to his brother, having inherited his grandparents house. He has spend what amounts to €15.000 designing and building a recording studio in the house, he still only play for himself. He loves his two nephews and his niece, and all other small pleasures in life.

My friend Simon has dyslexia. My friend Simon has dyscalculia. My friend Simon is the smartest person I know.

I wrote that in the beginning of this blog because:

My friend Simon has taught me to be humble, he has taught me to be tolerant, he has taught me to polish the rim of a Chevrolet Malibu from 1971, he has taught me to drink beer, he has taught be to be forgiving, he has taught me that the most important lesson in life is not to be read in a book. Last but not least he has taught me that no matter how hard life strikes me, no matter how overwhelming the world may seem, no matter how unfairly treated I feel — I will always be able to rise back up and make the best of what I have, he did.

I have never been taught so many important things from a person who can read and write.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Sebastian Schaltz Harder’s story.