Monday, June 06, 2016

Unsolicited Advice

Fifty years later...impossible!

I received a five year diary for my twelfth birthday and remember thinking that I would be 17 years old when I finished my entries. Seventeen! I could not image being that old. And so I entered my teen years in the late 1960s.

What would I tell my younger self from my vantage point several decades later? Would I listen to advice, sound or otherwise? The voice of the moment is stronger than voices of experience in the past or future. And that present voice is usually our own. I doubt my younger self would have listened to all these words but this is what I would say.

The world will still be here in 50 years. Don’t stay awake at night worrying about the cold war or the rapture. 

You will continue to be part of a growing family you love and who love you.

You cannot even imagine the changes that will happen in the next half century. Embrace change without fear. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions but be wary of people who think they have all the answers.

Everyone has a story. Take care to listen closely without judging. Be gracious and kind to everyone. There will always be one difficult person in your life and they will help you grow and mature if you are willing to learn. 

Don’t gossip or criticize others. And take great care not to become cynical, bitter or sarcastic. Don’t try to have the last word but know when to walk away from conflict. Live joyfully, peacefully and with contentment.

Most of us resist unsolicited advice. But the impact of stories, film, music and other expressions of popular culture can strongly affect the way we see the world. This song was popular in my teen years and I still have a copy of the Desiderata poem above my desk at work. One of my younger co-workers read it recently and remarked at its wisdom and beauty. She had never heard it before! So here is is to enjoy. I couldn't express advice better than this.


  1. Most enjoyable. You have the same dilemma...would we listen to our older selves when we were young.

  2. I really enjoyed this post, Ruth. I like your wording for the advice better than the Desiderata, but I think it's because you express yourself in more accessible language, at least the way I look at it in my world. Fun to reminisce on the culture of the 70's and to consider how much change has taken place since then.

  3. I vividly remember one of our local TV stations would sign off each night with a reading of this poem. I remember this 1972 version of the song too. I smiled at "There will always be one difficult person in your life and they will help you grow and mature if you are willing to learn," as there is so much truth in that for us all.

  4. Ah yes, the rapture. I remember a sermon from 1960 give or take. "I don't see how the world can last more than another ten years. All of the signs are there."

  5. I have always loved the Biography Channel's tag line, "every life has a story." Over time I have learned to be better at coaxing stories out of people, and almost always I come to appreciate and value that person more. Thanks for the reminder of that.

  6. Great advice to your younger self.

  7. This is a wonderful post, Ruth, and I enjoyed reading it. Yes, the changes that have occurred, just in the past 10 years, even! Think of what is yet to come!


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