In my searches around WordPress, I see many blog posts, and even a few entire blogs, advising folk on this or that. This had me thinking about advice. As I’m not in the advice business myself – unqualified – I thought about any advice which I was offered and could remember. Oddly enough, the first tip I recalled leads me to think up one of my own after all and, if I may, I’ll begin with this,
#1 Accept advice wherever you find it. Don’t let pride, prejudice or ego get in its way.
Actually, I also remember a scene from an old telly drama where a good man is intent on learning a new and useful skill from a cruel and despicable gang leader. After a while, the bad man considers why the good man is hanging on his every word, even asking questions, and seemingly treating him with undue reverence. In response, the good man says, “Even from a man like you, a good skill is worth knowing.”
#2 It doesn’t matter what you’re given so much as how you spend it.
This isn’t strictly the advice I was offered but a modification of it. It was given to me by a much younger person and the moment of precociousness astounded me more than the tip at first. Also, funnily enough, it is the sentiment in the lyrics of the Desmond Dekker 60s ska hit, Fu Man Chu.
#3 Always be prepared to run away.
Keeping with Chinese sagacity, there’s a little scene from the 70s US TV series, Kung Fu. Obviously, the marketing of this show was its martial arts, made within a trend of martial arts films and the popularity of kindred sports in schools and gyms throughout the land.
Actually, in the series, fight scenes were included quite sparingly and as much time was given over to explaining a kind of mindful lifestyle philosophy which may or may not have been authentic.
In the scene I remember, a group of student Shaolin monks are being instructed in complex and agile combat techniques using hands, body and feet. After a bit, the master signals a halt and gathers them around for a talk. Student Caine asks the Master, what is the best way to confront a hostile force, probably eager to learn some new and effective combat moves. Their Master tells them there is one important move; simply, “Run away.”
Of course, you can just walk away too, whatever. It saves getting into a fight or an argument which we all know is a total waste of anyone’s time.
#4 Is it ever a good idea to sign up to exclusivity?
Most things in life don’t compare to supporting a football team. (In all honesty, I’m not too sure why anyone should support one team, committing to it for life and, in doing so, take against all others. But I’m walking away from that argument.) Whether it’s religion, politics, philosophy, diet, lifestyle, whatever, if yours is a free life, you can follow whatever you want and reject whatever you feel isn’t right. And change your mind later.
For me, the best part of Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi, comes at the beginning when Pi decides he’d like to be a Christian, a Muslim and a Hindu because he sees some virtue in all of these. Naturally, each advocate of these separate beliefs throws his arms up in horror at Pi’s desire, attempting to convince him it can’t be done. Yet they have no convincing arguments as to why. I think perhaps Martel got the idea from Mahatma Gandhi’s proclamation that he was a Muslim. And a Hindu, a Christian, and a Jew. No doubt had he made a similar speech today, he might have gone further and claimed to be Humanist, and Buddhist, and a Jedi Warrior to boot. The sentiment remains.
Okay, I’ve had a bit of fun and, as you can see, involved a number of low cultural references; and sometimes that’s all it takes.
Here are some links for your amusement,
Fu Man Chu by Desmond Dekker & The Aces
Clip from the series, Kung Fu
Clip from the movie, Gandhi