We give advice to people to help them. To reach them through our knowledge and experience. And we do that because we don’t want people to suffer.
Imagine a perfect world. People don’t get hurt. People live in peace. And you imagine that, because deep down. there is goodness in your heart, in everyone’s.
Now you may disagree. Because some people may have intentionally or not, brought you suffering. And these people, just like yourself, may have been hurt by other people, intentionally or not. And thus, as a result, your perspective changes. Your idea of what the world is about, changed. And that’s okay. You learn some of your most important lessons in this manner. Unfortunately though, this can mean that with your new perspective on life, you bring suffering to someone else’s life. And it’s understandable, there’s a reason behind it, it doesn’t make you bad.
I spoke to a homeless person I had never seen before, sitting outside a shop. And the way which it happened, was quite extraordinary. See, as I walked into the shop, I mouthed the word sorry with my headphones on. If you don’t know, many hopeless people ask for change. And many of us unfortunately have this notion that the money we give them will be funding certain habits of a drug-nature. I purchased my favourite drink, the only drink I’d willingly drink with a high sugar content, SuperMalt. I was given 11p in change, and I thought might as well give it to the guy outside. So I stepped out, and reached towards his cup. And before I had even opened my fist, he looked at me with a sweet smile and grateful eyes, and simply said thank you. The genuine reaction reminded me of a particular etiquette of the Japanese:
On receiving a wrapped gift, one must not open it in front of the giver of the gift. The giving of the gift and the receiving it are the most important part of the gift; one must not open it in front of the giver of the gift. It is the intention that is most important.
And so, pleasantly surprised, and even further so by his offering of his hand for handshake, he asked me for my name and I asked him for his. Spanish. What a curious name. He told me he lived in Spain, and he sold cocaine. His demeanour would’ve been suited to one speaking of their past work, trading turnips and cabbages. He told me he had a son, and nonchalantly pulled up his sleeve to show his child’s name inked in his skin. He told me he had a wife, and her name was “tattooed on my arse”. He said it so matter-of-factly, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, I couldn’t help but chuckle. And then I realised, this man was being completely honest and open. He wasn’t trying to impress, to give off an imagine of a cool, badass or proud man. He was speaking with an open heart, a product the people around him and perhaps a few poor decisions. He wasn’t showing off. He was being normal, like You or I. And he had lived a life, and he had advice to give me, so I crouched down in front of him, and listened. Never ever assume you’re better than someone when they offer advice. Because that person has suffered, and they only speak to you to prevent suffering in your own life, and you owe that person the respect to listen. I told myself that you never know if amidst his advice of telling me not to marry, that somewhere there was a little nugget of pure gold that could change my life for the better, consciously or not consciously.
The phrase, a product of one’s environment can be phrased as a product of your subconscious, a part of your brain always working in the background, supplementing your mind with what it’s learned. If I could go back in time to speak to him, I would’ve told him to look at the people around him and ask himself if that’s the life he truly wants to live, and to perhaps wonder if the boy who stayed in school, putting his energy into the goals of having a stable income and a partner who knows better than to cheat on you, would be a better person to befriend. The people we associate ourselves with will inevitably guide us, and not always to the best place.
Food for thought:
Perhaps the easiest way to improve your life is to make the effort to get to know people with qualities and habits better than your own, in the hope that you can learn from them, and better yourself.
I had a long talk with my mother about a certain big decision. And in many cases, a mother loves her child unconditionally and wants the best for him/her. This means a lot of worrying about things that could go wrong. And I told her, that no matter what happens, life is going to have suffering. Suffering is a part of life. Money can buy only so much happiness, just ask King Midas.
Your life is simply a mixture of good times and bad, in whatever forms they may take. And it’s your duty to be grateful and appreciate your life when things go well, and be strong and patient when times are hard. And that there, is my secret to happiness. Know the bad times aren’t forever, and never lose hope in that things will get better. Otherwise you’ll turn into a grumpy old git who only complains and finds faults in everything!
Life isn’t forever, don’t let it pass you by as you are stuck in your head, constantly subservient to your emotions. ENjoy it when you can in a moral manner. Don’t fall into the mistakes of my good-natured friend Spanish, who took the phrase enjoy your life literally. Not all enjoyment is good, and not all bad things that happen are bad. Like my Grandma once said:
Every cloud has a silver lining
You just need to breathe, focus on your simply being, and let your emotions pass by, clearing the tunnel-vision they create, allowing you to look away from the grey mass of cloud and see that little bit of precious silver.