10

March

Ask a Hundred People

Wednesday March 10, 2021


It doesn’t seem possible, but it was six years ago when I got a message out of the blue: “A friend of mine is in the UK. I’ve told him he can stay with you. Can you pick him up at the station on Thursday evening?”

While I was delighted to think that we are the kind of family who will offer unquestioning hospitality, I was a little apprehensive as I drew up to the station to pick up this young man.

I needn’t have worried. Richard stayed with us for only a few days, but in those few days he became a member of the family. He was still a teenager – he’s only a little older than my daughters – and I admired then, and still do, his courage in leaving his own country and travelling alone at such a young age.

We’ve stayed close. Even though we are in different countries, we speak every week and talk about everything under the sun. I suppose I am like a favourite aunt to him.

Well, we all have problems, don’t we? Richard has faced problems as we all do and last year, he faced a particularly heart-breaking issue.

What should he do?

He asked everyone he could think of. I don’t know if he got around to asking perfect strangers on the street for advice, but it wasn’t far off. Everyone gave him a variant on the same advice – that advice being, “You cannot change things; you need to move on.”

The trouble was, he didn’t want to hear that advice; he wanted to be able to change things. He wanted a magic wand that could create a situation where the result would come out as he wanted.

It wasn’t going to happen.

He said, on Sunday, when he gave me permission to share his tale, that he had asked a hundred people, but until he asked himself and worked out the answer for himself, he was never going to be satisfied with that advice.

Do you find yourself asking for advice, then rejecting that advice because it’s not what you want to hear?

Sometimes we get different advice from people who have different philosophies on life. Many years ago, when selling a house, I agreed to sell at a certain figure and was then offered more by another buyer. “Business is business,” said one professional I consulted. “Take the higher offer.” “A deal is a deal,” said another. “Stick with the deal you have struck. The advice was conflicting, and I had to decide for myself, based on my own values. And, as my buyer dropped out, the point was moot anyway.

There are times we all need advice and people whom we respect enough to go to for advice. But do we need more than one or two?

In the end, we must decide for ourselves. I can ask a hundred people, but only one person can give me the answer; and that person is me.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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