Why do I seek, and take, advice?

I am at a coffee shop – holiday Monday afternoon … skinny cappuccino consumed … a woman sitting next to me – skinny,  black leather sneakers, short dark hair captured by a black hairband, black lycra leggings that haven’t gone to a gym … colour-free; a conversation – work-orientated … colourful.

She is good at giving advice – advice that is given with fluency in both English and Greek “Just wait 2 years – you never know if the South Africans will come back” … “Next time – just get a plumber in when you know there’s a leak – you’ll never do it – you know that” “I just think …” “You should look at…” “Just call it …” “Don’t stress over it” “Forget it” “If you live one more year in London  you can rent it out …it’s not that expensive – it’s expensive but not that expensive” … this woman is good – she has an answer to everything – she’s forceful – when she wants to really make the point it’s in Greek … she has advice in spades …

And she knows the person in front of her … brother? family-member? Definitely unchosen relationship – this is one linked by blood.  She cares about his welfare – how much exercise he’ll get – how much stress he’s under – what schools will be close (either a Catholic school … or a Greek school that is not too far away … best thing – she has experience)

She knows a lot about him and what he should do …

Why is he asking for her advice?

Why do I ask for, or seek, advice?

—-

Catherine Deneuve in a recent interview for Porter (@PORTERmagazine) offers this:

“For me to give anyone advice you really have to insist … Advice is really only based on our personal experiences”

I understand this … in theory.

Consciously, I know that the words offered are biased by value systems, life experiences, thought processes and contraints that are not mine …

But I would still take the advice of Catherine Deneuve … should she ever offer them …

I know that Top 10s, 8s and 5s – “Best Of”s and “Must Do”s are identified according to someone else’s definitions …

But I still open the emails containing these lists … promised silver bullets … and then write about them …

A little part is curiosity – a larger part is the idea that “I could do life better” …

Catherine Deneuve seems to have done life better than I am doing – stunning career – formidable woman (both in the English and French senses of the word) – married – children – an enigmatic quality that has lasted a life …

I would try her advice on for size …

Would I rely on the advice of the woman sitting next to me?  No.

Why not? Because we seem to have nothing in common – because she doesn’t know me … because she isn’t the type of woman that I want to be … Where I admire the actress, I know nothing about the lycra-wearer …

And the lists?

I very rarely take on the advice given … sometimes I try it … if the author seems like s/he is like me … or if they are leading a life that has facets of my ideal …

So – the advice given by those who I admire – or from those who know me – weighs more heavily … is taken more regularly …

So – why read the Top 10s and 8s and “Best Of”s … why take them on board?  If the likelihood of me following them – using them is low – why clutter my brainspace?

 

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