Blogapalooza Advice-A-Rama: Pay Attention... I MEAN It!

-By Warner Todd Huston

What advice do you have? Now THAT is a question for the ages. I mean, seriously... advice? If we all knew the best advice for others, for ourselves, we'd all be king of the world. But, let's face it, you don't live life without discovering something that approaches advice.

You've got the old standbys of course.

"Don't take a wooden nickel." Come on. Is this a worry, really?

"Come in out of the rain." Kill joy.

"Don't forget to vote." This one increasingly seems laughable.

But advice isn't to be confused with an aphorism. Take Ben Franklin's "Wise men don't need advice. Fools won't take it." It may be true, but it isn't really "advice." It's a saying, a truism. A Poor Richardsism... is that even a word?

But there is advice. I have advice.

Pay attention.

No, that isn't a mere warning, it's my advice. Really.

Pay attention.

One of the things that really amazes me is how few people seem to simply pay attention to what is going on around them. In the world, in their state, in their town... in their very home.

Have you ever noticed that one guy that always seems to know everything. He's the guy you and your co-workers and/or friends go to when things are happening, things that you want to know about.

Is that guy some kind of brilliant sage? Probably not. He just pays attention. He listens to the news, to the radio, to the TV, to those around him. He reads, he knows some history, he just notices things. He pays attention and then can relay it all to you when you ask.

It ain't no thang. But it is a skill you need to start developing.

Why, though? Why bother?

For one thing it helps you realize things about yourself. You see what others are doing, saying, see what they are living through. You see what happened in the past, where we all came from, why we did things, why we do them now. And this helps us understand what we should do.

But, is that important? Really?

Well, here is where it gets deep.

Socrates once supposedly said something to the effect of "the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being."

I say supposedly because after this many thousands of years later, well, who can be sure, really? But this is the cannon of Socrates. And whether he said it exactly like that or not, the advice is good.

You see, if we don't constantly try to improve ourselves, then what are we? Well, the truth is we are not any more advanced than the denizens of animal kingdom, are we? Of all the creatures on earth, only humans have the capacity to think of themselves in this way. And so it is truly a crime against humanity to let that legacy go to waste.

So, come in out of the rain, pay attention to your surroundings, and examine yourself.

It's your duty as a person.

Filed under: Education

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