I read somewhere, sometime, a very apt quote which I can vaguely remember as it was written, but can attempt to summarize as: “the difficulty with giving advice, is that it is hard to follow them for oneself.” I thought I had never read any better truth. I believe it is the realisation of this weakness in humans that birthed the very famous quote: “practice what you preach”, and there’s also the words (which I believe are Scriptural per Google research) which read: “remove the log in your eye, before attempting to remove the log in someone else’s eyes”.
For a very long time, I have been a vibrant advocate of these beliefs; and I would be very irate if I had even the slightest incline that someone was offering me something (however priceless it might seem) they could well use themselves; in other words, giving something they did not seem to have. Think about that coughing man in the bus that once advertised the epic coughing syrup to you; or that walking man in the dead-end traffic with stacks of books ranked high on his shoulder, offering to sell to you– a man in the car, with windows hitherto wound up because of the joy of the air-conditioning– a 30 paged book on how to become a millionaire in ten days… sick, right?! If I were you, I would be dead mad and wary! And it will be absolutely natural, because the African saying sternly warns: “beware of a naked man that offers you a shirt.” But recently, I have been thinking quite differently.
I understand that the problem with quotes and proverbs is that they are imbued with so much meaning that each person who reads it might well come up with a different understanding of it; so this is not me trying to distort the statusquo, or impose a meaning– rather, this is me, trying to re-learn and understand something, a phenomenon, that reaches deeply into our daily lives; from my own point of view. However, without a doubt, your views are very welcome too.
Every now and then, we find ourselves in some dilemma– with respect to life, and love and everything else in between. I think it is safe to say that the irony of life is that more than half of the time, we do not see ourselves and our situations clearly as we see that of others– friends and family alike. He who is “on the spot” hardly has the calmness and control of mind he requires to register the needfuls around and about him; often, he has just one goal in mind: escape– release– getting out fast! He often would be less bothered about how; and often, he would do what he has to do. Don’t even try to question the morality of what his eventual choice might be, because if you were not there, you simply were not there. End of story.
But in reality, often, we are more attuned to give better advices than leading better lives for ourselves (caveat: with consciousness, some people try to lead a balance, successfully too). So you can find the excellent wedding planner who has never been married; or the relationship expert who is very single; or the miracle doctor who neglects his need for sleep and rest; or the brilliant banker, who leads a reckless gambling life outside the banking halls… these mismatches are common, ironic too. Yet, it is what it is; or at least, it appears so… you do not have to have (or have had) something to give something, at least not always.
Personally, I get wary of offering my opinions on things I have never really been through, or things I have been through but had a hard time getting through in the “right” way– yet, I think that in our deepest of hearts, we know; everyone of us knows, or at least has an incline of what the real TRUTH is, or what the RIGHT thing to do is. But we often seek advice and ask questions because we hope to be wrong. We are afraid of being right; afraid to live the truth of our realities; because as Oscar Wilde pointed out, “the truth is rarely pure, and never simple”.
So, in our world’s, by our selves– very few people have the courage to live the truth that they know, to follow the right course and do the right thing; some of us shun the voice of truth that keeps calling from deep within our guts and play victim to fate and circumstances; others seek advice about a truth they already know, one that lies within the nooks and cranies of every living soul– some get lucky twice, others don’t; and a few, just a minute graceful and blessed few, listen to that voice and make that difficult decision, painfully, stealthily but steadily. Complimentary to this, Annais Nin notes: “there are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.”
In the end, it doesn’t matter which category we fall into, as we might well fall into all categories at different times of our lives; what matters however is that we understand that as humans we don’t always know how to use what we know, but it doesn’t mean we do not know what we know. Bottom line, yes, I think we should strive to practice what we preach; and teach by example. Yet, I think too that if we have it, where we can, when we have to, we should spare a good advice even if we have yet found the courage to live it through.
“You never know, lightning could strike.”
© The Short Black Girl, 2016.