Do you remember how many times you asked for relationship advice from a friend who has never had a long-term relationship? Or how many times you listened to investment advice from a relative who only had enough money in the bank to suffice for that month? Or the bits of career wisdom from a friend who has been working in the same place for ten years or changes jobs every three months?
We all believe we’re selfless enough to comfort our loved ones in troubled times and smart enough to give them many forms of advice. But are we really? James Altucher (whose advice I always read with astonishment and interest) says that, “advice is always autobiography,” summarizing our idea of wisdom quite nicely. Do we want to give consolation to our dear and burdened friends at the wistful rakı table? All the multitudinous misfortunes that cross our minds and the very personal utopia we hide in the corner of our thoughts all come together instantly. Most of the time, the value of our advice does not come from actual wisdom or objectivity, but from uttering them with affectionate sincerity. The consoler assumes the appearance of advice-giver in moments of crisis. From the “there’s plenty of fish in the sea,” to “this is how you make money,” to “I lived through the same thing, let me tell you,” or “this is the secret of the trade…” is there any one of us who hasn’t received a morsel of wisdom from the expert advice sessions that have stretched on for hours?
However, even the most innocent pieces of advice have a dark side. It says often that what one person can’t accomplish, the other can’t either. Sometimes it suffices to allege that the most ideal technique for evading all troubles is to hope for good things and wait. In general, there’s only one solution for every problem. It defends the fact that some problems can never be solved. No matter how well intentioned, advice always carries the shadows of the past. Whereas life advances towards the future in full force. Cells are renewed, blood is cleansed, wounds heal, leaves sprout…with every bit of advice, humanity is trying to hammer the nail of absolutism upon a world that is changing and renewing constantly.
OK but what can we do, should we never heed the advice of others? Even if we decide not to follow it, we’re talking about something whose utterance we can never escape? If there’s no escape from being subject to advice, perhaps it’s time to put a certain distance between ourselves and what we hear? If every recommendation is loaded with the past of another, where will our own future lead us?