After class I tend to find myself walking home with one of the dozen or so other stagiaires (students) in my class. We’re an eclectic lot: I’ve had classmates from China, India, Chechnya, Russia, Bosnia, Morocco, Tunisia, and even the U.S. of A. – not counting little ol’ me. Today I walked home with M, here less than a month with her son from Ukraine. She asked if she could use our Internet to open a document she couldn’t from home, which wasn’t a problem. I texted Chris to let him know.
“Your husband’s home?” she asked. I said he was. “I don’t like men,” she replied (with a smile).
“Oh, I dunno,” I said, “I know a lot of them are a pain, but I really love my partner. And we’ve been together a long time now – I think I know him pretty well.”
“You’re young,” she retorted. “Just wait – you’ll see.”
OK – the thing is, nobody really likes being told that last bit, whether they’re five years old or fifty. Yes, we all know wisdom is supposed to come with age, but deep down we also know that’s a load of crap, because most of us have met our fair share of sage children and dumbass grown-ups. Some people just simply get it all a little better than others. Having said that, I have a lot of respect for my elders. A lot. She isn’t one of them. Not that I don’t respect her – I do. Just that she’s 38.
At any rate, the whole conversation got me to thinking about self-help and advice and what-have-you. And I’ve decided that there are two kinds of advice. The first kind – the more pedestrian of the two – works like this: Self-helper has been through something really profound and life-altering and often bad (in M’s case, she married a man through an “Internet agency” – read: present-day mail-order bride service – who is a racist prick 20 years her senior she seems to pretty much hate through and through and through again) and now thinks this is how the world works. Self-helper goes on to share psuedo-wisdom and is quite successful, particularly among others who have been similarly burned/hurt/tricked/connived in the past.
The second kind is quite different, and classifying it depends upon the individual and their life experience. That is to say, for some people this kind of advice looks a certain way, or comes in a particular package, etc. For others the afore-mentioned advice package will appear to be a load of rot, but another will hit their brand of nail squarely on its head. Both of these, however, will share a key feature: they will not be the product of someone’s anger or confusion, but of a sort of realization they’ve undergone that speaks to the human spirit. It might be, in turns, Ram Dass’ Be Here Now, or Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now…or even The Bhagavad Gita, The Bible or The Quran…this list is nearly as long as the other, come to think of it.
Now, I won’t go so far as to call it The Quran, but I will say that fellow blogger Max Zografos is onto just such a concept. get.rid (his new book’s working title) is where cleansing meets nourishing, a sort of de-cluttering of the crap one builds up in one’s body/mind/spirit over the years, in a conscious effort to make space for all things really important. It also pointedly examines things we take for granted – societal norms about which we don’t dare think twice, until we find ourselves in the shoes of Tessie Hutchinson or some such poor soul.
Here’s a disclaimer for you: I’ve not yet read it. Can’t. Neither can you. It’s not out yet. But it’s coming…
I’m not speaking entirely out of my arse, though. It’s based on his excellent blog, which I’ve followed for quite a while, but it’s more focused than the blog itself…being that it’s a different medium and so forth. And it’s not just the book that’s excellent – or is going to be (fact, not opinion, ladies and gents) – it’s the whole darned process. Max has crowd-sourced everything for the book, from the artists who’ve illustrated it to the funders who helped bring it to fruition. The whole process has been a bit of a rollercoaster: this is extreme self-publishing, if you will. You can join in the fun if you fancy by following him at maxzografos.com.
I’m always stoked to know somebody’s out there thinking new thoughts in a new way – a way we’re meant to understand, but also in a way that plays not on our anger or disappointment, but on our potential and hope. Here’s hoping for more of that…and your thoughts on the whole kit-and-caboodle as well!