Thursday, September 5, 2013

Navigating the Advice Line

Advice is a universal aspect of life.  Be it during the day-to-day or over the course of tyme, a lot of guidance is steered in our direction.  Some of this advice is good and some of it’s of no use.  Some of it’s given with the best of intentions and, sadly, some of it’s offered with less than honorable intent.  A lot of tymes we take advice at face value if it comes from a trusted source, but some tymes we take advice because it’s what we want to hear, not necessarily what we need to hear. Regardless though of tyme, intentions and sources, if we consider it, listening to all the advice that other people have for us really negates the need to think for ourselves.  Of course such an approach to living life is, well, ill advised.

It’s true, the advice line as an all day, every day entity in life that has many channels and while we need to be aware of it, we should not be addicted to it.  There are tymes to tune it in and tymes to turn it off.  There are tymes to change the channel and tymes to hit the record button for later use. Of course, discerning which action to apply when can prove difficult.  Just like most missions in life there is some trial and error involved, but practice greatly improves our chances of getting it right.

So what are the proper practice techniques for handling the advice line?  I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but for me, well, I seem to use the archive technique – or perhaps it uses me because it usually happens when I least expect it.  For example, the other day I was tasked with a rather large project of adding labels to envelopes.  Oh I know, not a huge task on a normal scale, but this related to a mass mailing, so the effort was far more considerable.  As I sat at my desk, peeling and sticking my stacks of labels I admittedly began to grow weary of my duty and, shamefully, laziness ensued.  

I decided, or rather my weariness convinced me, to relax in my chair and place the labels with one hand as I rested a bit.  As you may have deduced with such weariness came a lack of precision and after a few, well, not so straightly placed labels some of my archived advice line recordings started playing through my mind. Every recording advised the same thing:

Use two hands. 

That bit of advice was a common theme in my younger life.  It was offered in regard to everything from learning to drink from a cup, ride my bike, and catch a ball to learning to drive a car, type on a computer and play the guitar. Of course it had different applications depending on the situation.  Two hands on a cup was meant to steady me while using two hands to play the guitar was meant to remind me that more could be accomplished if I focused on what each hand could do separately as well as together.  The underlying element however was the same; using two hands made it possible to get the job done and do it right.

As my advice line recordings resounded in my mind, I took a deep breath, straightened my posture and I went back to my task using the much more effective, two handed, labeling method. Then, as I sat there sticking away, it occurred to me that the advice I remembered didn’t just apply to tasks in life, but also to life as a whole.

As we walk through life there are many obstacles to stumble over.  Using two hands in such cases is simply a way to, perhaps, cushion the blow of our fall, but if we walk through life already using two hands, we will never fall.  How you ask? When one of the two hands is God’s. When we walk through life holding God’s hand He is right there with us to steady us when we stumble and help us accomplish things that we simply could not accomplish with merely our own hands.     

I couldn’t help but smile as I finished labeling my large stack of envelopes and pondering the new meaning of my archived advice recordings.  I realized that while my advice line can get bombarded with useless and misguided advice, it also receives the helpful and applicable guidance I need to get me through life. Of course discerning which advice to use, keep, throw away or record is a continuous undertaking, but from now on, I’ll be sure to use two hands in the process.