It occurred to me again today how many people there are trying to tell us how to live our lives. Doctor Phil. The Dali Lama. Every inexperienced academic on the planet. The Federal Government. Oprah Winfrey. Fox News. John McCain. (okay, so those last two are telling us the same things) Cereal boxes. New age self-improvement books. Newspaper columns. Talk shows. Organized (and unorganized) religions. The Marketing Machine. Bloggers. The media in general. The “style” section in particular. Movies stars. Athletes. Everybody.
News flash. These people are all wrong.
They all have an ax to grind. They all want to look extra smart, or want some slice of your money, or want to exercise control over you, or just want to convince you that their way is the one true way. All of them are mouthing generalities which have nothing to do with you in particular and very little to do with human beings in general. They all want you to do things that are to their advantage and don’t even bother taking you into consideration.
You are the only one like you that there is. That uniqueness is much more than a platitude. The complexity and fine structure that makes up an individual human being is a truly awesome thing to behold, and is utterly impossible to fully comprehend. The best that the platitudes, old wives tales, and conventional “wisdoms” can do is try to play games with your mind for the advantage of the utterer. Pay them little mind.
There is a nugget of “truth” in all of them, if you are the “average” person. Of course, no one is average and there are no easy answers. If you’d like, have a look at what people have to say. If you have enough grains of salt, there is probably something to take away from everything anybody ever says. But that something is probably too general and too small to be of any real value for the specific you.
It should also be noted that looking endlessly at every platitude that comes into your field of vision is probably not a good thing. If you are looking for and at these things, you are probably trying to learn and improve yourself, which is an excellent objective. But the best that platitudes can do is set you to thinking about someone else’s truth and how it may apply to you, if at all.
The truth is, in order to improve yourself, you have to understand your own fine structure and not someone else’s. You need to study and understand yourself. There will never be time to compare yourself against everything. And even more importantly, you will need to actually do something to improve yourself. Pondering platitudes endlessly is an excellent way to waste the rest of your life. After some reasonable period of reflection, get off your butt and do something. If it’s wrong, learn from it and change what you do next accordingly.
Inaction leads only to more inaction. Only informed action leads to life. So stop reading this, right now, and go out and do something. 🙂
Nicely said @KDFrawg. Nicely Said. ::goes for another walk::
You know, plenty of people want to offer advice and I always think- “they are telling me this and it may be helpful, but they are not seeing things from exactly my shoes.”
Your post reminds me of a pregnant Japanese friend. I asked her what books she was planning on reading. She replied, “we all know how to mother instinctively, there is no need to read a book.” I felt she was also saying that only those who feel nervous, or insecure rely on that kind of pop-psych.
Never trust anybody who gets paid to talk!
You must understand the rules to break them correctly! Great post.
I appreciate your call to action, @kdfrawg! It’s through taking action in the world outside of myself that I learn the most about my own gifts, capability and instinct.
Good advice, one should always try to improve themselves. But like you said, it is best to fully understand yourself. Great post
“After some reasonable period of reflection, get off your butt and do something. If it’s wrong, learn from it and change what you do next accordingly.”
If you don’t mind me dropping a link, I have done some reflecting myself.
I’ve done some surfing around your blog. I’m sorry I hadn’t noticed how brilliant it is before now. I enjoy raw open perspectives. Have grabbed feed and am likely addicted to returning. 😉
High praise coming from you, Kimberly. I have always loved your stuff. You ponder brilliantly. 🙂
Very well put!
I think I could use your advisory bull**** logo to apply to a few things and people! 🙂
From a fellow traveller in Curmudgeondom – RIGHT ON! been looking for bloggers with good takes.
No one really knows how much he/she knows or doesn’t know – so not knowing how much one knows – one really knows nothing at all.
Hence – why tell someone else the “right” way to live.