Recently, well, shit, my marriage was in some trouble. Like serious trouble. Like, are we splitting up trouble? Whose hasn’t, right? (hug me)
Well, an acquaintance offered some advice to both of us. Unsolicited, of course. I thought about some of it, dismissed a lot of it — because it made no sense — because this person doesn’t really know us as individuals or as a couple. I would never ask someone who didn’t know all of the facts what to do in a certain situation. And maybe that’s why introverts don’t ask for — or often appreciate — advice: we are the only ones who have all of the relevant information in a situation and still don’t always know what to do.
In this case, someone who barely knew us seemed to think he could fix it all. Do you know our history? Our hangups? Who’s damaged our relationship from the outside? Do you know the fears in our souls that maybe we don’t even share with each other but which make as much of a difference to our bond as living in the same city and physical compatibility? No.
But this person is older. He got to talk. We pretended to listen.
And I realized that I’m not 22 anymore. I am the adult now. Approaching middle age, I don’t look at older people as necessarily wiser. By this age, we all know that older people fuck things up and have done so their whole lives — and that they still fuck things up. Just like us. Just like dumb kids.
We are all stupid a lot of the time. Has anyone really figured out marriage or anything else enough to really be able to fix someone’s problems?* This is bleak, yes, maybe. But that doesn’t mean that problems can’t be fixed. You just have to do that yourself. And, maybe not with this guy (who I think did actually mean well, in his own way), but how many times is advice just a nice distraction from repairing your own fucked up life?
*(Ignoring problems of human agency of course — no one could actually fix you because you have your own will, etc.)
(Blackwing 1138 in a Field Notes Snowblind edition.)