Contemplating in Cairo – Vol. 21

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It is a common belief and credo of life that we must learn from other people's experiences. Our parents, our friends, our superiors at work and even the gardener are willing and able to bestow their words of wisdom upon us, though we may not even ask for them sometimes.

Humans are very similar and very different at the same time. The situations we go through and the decisions we have to make through our lives always echo a sense of familiarity with others. Having said that, it is important to understand that no two situations are the same. Circumstances differ from one to the other, and so do our levels of tolerance, our perceptions and our beliefs.

In this light, when one seeks advice or council, it is vital to compare the situation of the one giving the advice with our own. Sure, the similarities may be countless, but so are the differences. Following someone else's footsteps is not always fair to ourselves.

Taking advice may make sense to the mind, but it doesn't to the heart. The heart wants what the heart wants. Following examples of other people's situations and experiences is easier said than done. When you are told not to go down a certain road, you know you're being told the right thing, but does it work? Does it stop you?

We have all encountered situations, perhaps with friends, family members or colleagues, where we bestowed our own wisdom on them. We have also encountered the stubborn types who listen very well to what you have to say, but simply choose to walk down a different road. It can be very frustrating when that happens, but, come to think of it, haven't we done it ourselves to others?

It is said that advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer, but wish we hadn't. If this is the case, then why do we ask for advice in the first place?

The answer to that is quite simple…

We seek advice because it helps us to better understand what to expect from making a decision. Delving into other people's experiences helps us form a clearer picture of what we ourselves are stepping into. What we choose to do afterward will probably involve taking the more painful road, but at least we will have a better understanding of what to expect…

If it is true that we seek advice even though we already know what should be done, then we are definitely seeking advice for something that we have true passion for. And, if it is something you have true passion for, it is only fair that you give it a try…

Maybe we need to get hurt in order to know that one thing or the other is bad for us. "Know" is not the right word here though; "believe" rings truer. Perhaps in the pain that the experience will cause us, we will finally have the strength to eliminate the cause from our lives. We need the sting, the burn, the hurt to fuel us with the will to say "no". Following advice is not easy. We will always and forever wonder "what if?" It's the pain that we – perhaps – inflict upon ourselves that empowers us to prevent it from happening again.

Whether it's seeing a guy who is considered a "bad influence" or pursuing a passion that is considered unorthodox or risky, or taking a drastic career move in pursuit of doing what you love for a living. Unless it hurts us personally, other people's experience with similar hurts just don't have enough impact on us to stop us from treading those steps. 

Maybe you need to get your feeling hurt by that guy, or maybe you need to feel the hunger when pursuing the career that doesn't pay you enough money for food. Maybe we need to pursue our passions to prove to ourselves that they are not worth it. We are a species that is full of flaws and that is why we act as such.

At the end of each journey we take and every decision we make is a lesson well-learned and an experience well-earned.

We pursue our passions and walk down the rigid roads that hurt us emotionally and physically. If the aftermath doesn't leave us dead, it leaves us with the experience that will one day be sought by someone else and the wisdom that will be bestowed upon them… And that will most probably be ignored…

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