Monday, February 11, 2013

Those Advice Blogs

There are so many advice blogs on the web.  They tell you how to lead a simpler life,  make your house more light and cheerful, raise chickens, train dogs, cope with children, plant a garden, get in touch with your true self.

Often, in the dark of night, I wish I too could write an advice blog.  Advice blogs seem to generate such buzz, such enthusiasm among the readers.  They give people hope, and something to try--no wonder they're popular.  So I toss and turn and look around in my mind and in my heart for something that I could give advice about.  Surely I've been around long enough to have some words of wisdom to impart on the multitudes.

But every time I rummage in the attics of my brain (and of my heart--mustn't forget the heart!)  I come up with a collection of raggedy afghans, old dog collars, musty files and abandoned projects-- nothing that I would want to bring to the light of day.

In my blithe thirties and forties I used to write articles for the popular press, and many of them offered some kind of advice:  how to run with your dog, how to get your kids to pick up after themselves, why it was a good idea to have dinner for breakfast (yes, that was actually published).  I was no authority on dog training or child rearing or nutrition, but I spoke in good faith from personal experience, and was confident that others might benefit from it.  And,  though they weren't my favorites, those advice articles always sold.

Now here I am, older and supposedly wiser, yet I feel unable to offer advice even on how to put your pants on in the morning.  (Wait!  I do have something to say about that:  it's good for your brain if you alternate which leg you put in first.)  Who am I to tell you how to train your dog, raise your chickens, or achieve serenity?

I remember so clearly when I was fourteen thinking that when I finally grew up I would understand all things and my adolescent angst would vanish forever.  Why didn't anybody tell me that that angst, though slightly different in flavor and texture, would stay with me for the rest of my days?

I went through a period of relative certainty when I was a parent, probably because this is an adaptive mechanism for the species.  But now that my parenting days are over everything is subtler, grayer, less defined.  From day to day the ground seems to shift under my feet.  I have forgotten so much of what I used to know, and the stuff I'm learning now is almost impossible to put into words.

I doubt that things are going to become any clearer in the coming years.  Still, if by some miracle one of these days I have a flash of understanding--and the words with which to express it--I'll be sure to write about it here.

7 comments :

  1. i'm getting so old i can't put my pants on anymore unless i'm sitting down.
    and while i have always hated those advice blogs and magazines--so blithe! so impractical! so out of touch with reality!--i have to say you are one of the few people i would take advice from.

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  2. You are avoiding advice while showing people how you live. Your readers see a life lived well, or at least explained when not lived well, and respond as they see fit.

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    1. Oh, John, this "life lived well" often feels like a life bumbled through. But I do try to be honest.

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  3. OMGosh, I feel your advice inherently in your writing! Don't "try" to do it, your best example of any "how" is the way you live your life so authentically. I love what John says above and I think we all pretty much bumble through...no one has that magic book of how to live life anyway.

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  4. It's true that nobody has the magic book. Possibly the best (the only?) thing we can all do for each other is to bumble along together as honestly as we can.

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  5. As I get older, I find out there are more gray areas and nothing is set in concrete and you have to be very adaptable. I do get smarter and wiser, but that only applies to my own life. I don't pretend to know anything about the lives of other people. I'm just glad that I'm smart enough about my own.

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