That's a fine essay, and a wise one. It's good to know that we do -- eventually -- learn.
Thank you very much. That means a lot to me that you think so.
You are too, too right.
A goofball example: We had gotten a kitten. I had moved to Cleveland after college, and was now living with mebil
and said kitten. Charles said, "Keep the toilet lid down or he'll fall in."
Because habit is a hard thing to break, I left the lid up and proceeded to brush my teeth. *splash* Wet kitten. After that, I learned to leave the lid down.
When I was in high school we had a cat that was quite the opposite. He was fascinated with the toilet and figured out how to flush it. Then we noticed that the litter box was staying clean. We were nervously searching the house for some nasty gifts, but nothing. It took a while, but we finally caught him. He had actually trained himself to use the toilet and would flush afterward.
We always suspected that he was a human trapped in a cat body.
Yup. Realizing that they aren't doing it on purpose.
Thank you for these thoughts. I agree and coming to this realization, I believe, strengthens relationships more than weakens them.
It certainly saves the argument about "why didn't you learn from my mistakes?"
I have slowly come to recognize that knowing the steps of the crash does not mean that you can prevent others from having the experience.
But what you can bring to it, is not "I told you so" (which of course you wouldn't) but you can be there with the "band-aid and cup of hot sweet tea" equivalent for after the crash. You know it is coming, you know what the damage is likely to be, and so you can be ready to be there to help pick up the pieces and get the person back on track again ... and sometimes you can soften the wall they are heading towards.
And yes, often people have to learn by their own mistakes (I've worked on many SF conventions, and I can see people about to make the same mistake with badges or registration or publications or whatever that I went through ten or twenty years ago, and I point things out to them, and they are sure that, not being me, they can handle whatever it is ... and then it goes wrong ... that's when knowing what to do next comes in handy as you can help them recover from that disaster and keep everything flowing smoothly ... like having a stack of sticky labels and black marker pens handy to take over when the inkjet printer breaks or just can't handled printing 3,000 badges in an hour ...)
You know it is coming, you know what the damage is likely to be
I think you have to be careful with that one though. I've been on both ends of this where I've crashed and someone has been there for me but because of the person I am, I am not reacting the way they did when they made the same mistake. Or I've tried to comfort someone after seeing them jump the same way I did.
The important part is making yourself available for comfort but not to come in with a particular notion of what type of comfort that person will want.
That's being a real friend.
so true. one reason of course that noobs don't listen to wisdom is because they have one look at those scars and don't believe you when you say it wasn't any fun.
"No really, being a drunk is no fun, you shouldn't drink daughter," daddy says.
"But, dad, weren't you an alcoholic for two decades?" the daughter says.
"Actually, it was longer than that," says the daddy.
"You're such a hypocrite, come on Jenna, let's get trashed!"
Kids. It sometimes doesn't matter what example you set for them. None of the adults involved in my kids' lives smokes or drinks heavily, but Erin had to experiment with both. You just want a shake them and scream, "Why???!!!!"
(I'm one of the lucky moms: she outgrew the experimenting relatively quickly - meaning it seemed like forever at the time but wasn't actually.)
In my case my father smoked quite a bit but my sister and I, from a very early age, never saw the appeal and thus were never even tempted to try it. And most of our friends did smoke since in Spain it wasn't such a big deal.
I tried twice. After the second time I thought, it stinks, it makes my throat hurt, and it's deadly. Why is this supposed to be so cool?!
That was the end of that.
I realized that not long ago myself, mainly because I still frequent websites that are largely populated by high schoolers. I'm still young enough to remember exactly how I acted in high school, and I spent a long time trying to explain to them why their actions were causing them and others so much pain, but they didn't/couldn't understand. So I eventually just sighed and let them do their thing, there with comfort when it's necessary, but otherwise keeping my mouth shut.
The one mistake I am in fear of making is doing what my mother did and marrying someone like my father. Because she was repeating her mom's mistake too. x.x I feel doomed because of it. Hopefully, if I do make that mistake, I won't be married to him for 28 years (as she was).
I went completely the other way, married someone the polar opposite of my father the first time around.
It was better, but still not pretty. He's a better person with his second wife, though, and a better dad, so it's worked out.
I wish my dad was a better person with his second wife. Really, she makes him worse, because she dislikes everyone related to him (including my brothers and I, of course). I wasn't mad when he remarried, but I still maintain that he could've found someone a lot better. I guess the appeal in his eyes was that she is the polar opposite of my mother in every conceivable way except gender. I'd be okay with her if she didn't treat me like a trespasser every time I visit their home. XP She's fine in other places, but when I visit their house she acts like I'm a termite or something.
Beh. Anyway, yeah. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.
Experience is a teacher
but here's what makes me burn
she always tries to teach those things
I have no wish to learn.
One of the horrible ironies about giving advice is that you usually do so because you're trying to help somebody else avoid the mistakes and pain you went through. However, in order for them to really understand the advice you're trying to impart to them, they often have to go through the very same experience/pain that you're trying to keep them from experiencing in the first place.
I remember wondering some years ago, "Why didn't somebody try to warn me off about doing X?" Then I realized from my own experience of trying to give advice to others that it might not have did any good anyway because either people don't listen to the advice you're trying to give them, or they have to learn for themselves through painful experience the lesson you're trying to teach them.
I'm not saying one shouldn't try to give advice. I'm just no longer surprised or get overly frustrated if somebody doesn't listen to me or learn from my advice. Also, I tend not to be pushy anyway about giving advice since I don't feel comfortable being pushy/overly assertive. I might mention what they should look out for, but unless it's a matter of life and death, I don't push the issue. I just hope things turn out okay. You have to learn to accept that beyond a certain point, things are beyond your control to influence, and people are going to make mistakes despite your best efforts to keep them from doing so.
I think it helps to have heard it, when they finally do crash. They just don't have enough experience to understand what you're saying until after they...have enough experience to understand what you're saying.
Yeah, I agree. Having heard the advice might help them learn the lesson better once they go through the experience for themself: "Oh! That's what you meant by that. Now I understand." I know that in my case, even when I was totally willing to take somebody else's advice about something, it really wasn't until I did something myself that I really understood the advice somebody else was trying to give to me.
Still, even keeping the above observations in mind, sometimes advice can help keep somebody from something dangerous or at least minimize the damage that might happen to them. After I read various articles and books about the horrible things others went through because of using drugs, I thought, "Ugh! That sounds horrible. I'm doing that." And to this day I've never used drugs, so that's one positive example of that.
A refrain comes to mind:
Nothing changes cause it's all the same
The world you get's the one you give away
It all just happens again
Way down the line
And all the things you learn when you're a kid
You'll **** up just like your parents did
It all just happens again
Way down the line
Yeah. The best we can hope for is to make our mistakes in new and interesting ways.
excellent post. Good to remember for all of us. I think it's especially useful for parents to keep in mind. It must be so hard to watch your kids make the very mistakes you tried to save them from.
btw, mind if link to this post?
It is a matter of natural law that some people must learn their life lessons from personal experience. No amount of warning, or even watching other's pain will bring the lesson home.
Some people just have to put their hand on the pot belly stove.