Advice freely given and freely taken is most often ignored. It should be.
“Advice,” I say to my children, “should be ignored.”
On this they always agree.
Lawyers have a saying, its worth what one pays for it. Saying this, they hope to get paid for it even if the advice is bad. Once in a blue moon it is worth all the tea in China. Beware of mixed metaphors and cliches, my English teacher advised, they are just words strung together, hot air that doesn’t fit the bill.
How about this – two thirsty men are stranded in the Mojave desert with a canteen half full. Would they rather have a map to the next water hole or a map to buried treasure? Or suppose you slip and fall from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Would you rather have a bar of gold or a parachute?
Value comes from the use we make of a thing.
Come to think of it, gold is just a rock, of no value until you get rid of it. And kindly word can be a powerful and valuable thing. A nothing thing really, but then only words can motivate us, enlighten us, and give us hope.
When I was a child of twelve, my dad gave me advice, lots of it, which I didn’t pay much attention to.
His advice included:
- “Get with the program!” Used when I was not not doing what I should have been and said too often, with me giving that quizzical half-cock of the head response indicating I had not a clue what program I should be watching.
- “Liars figure, and figures lie.” Used when stuffy headed politicians tried to make a point with meaningless numbers and no common sense.
- “Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes.” My favorite piece of advice since it said anything is possible if one believes hard enough in its success.
My dad liked peanuts, wine, and checkers. I could beat him in chess, but not checkers. Go figure. Once, when I was a mere child of eight at a cub scout party, my dad and I entered a three legged race. Each of us had to share one leg in a potato sack and run a distance of 100 yards over a rolling field. Other sons and dads could not get the hang of it and fell down hilariously to the crowd’s amusement. We won the race by working together, running stride for stride. Not a word was said, but the point was made, and maybe that was the best advice he gave me.
The other day, I came across this old Scottish saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” What I really heard was dad’s advice, get out there and work hard, it will pay off in the end.
In a way, it is funny and sad, to wait so long to hear one’s dad.