The question, “What advice would you give your 16 year old self?” was posed to me, today. My response was, “So so many things.”
A laundry list of cautionary and affirmative aphorisms flooded forth– immediately drawing me to the advice I give my own children (who are about this age, now). All based on my own experience, I concluded. I pass onto them what I know, but it is only out of that knowing that I am able to share my wisdom. After all, wisdom comes only from experience and knowing.
This question resonated, ruminated, lingered– because I wanted to know for myself what the ONE piece of meaningful advice would have been for me. Only then, did I realize that advice like this is personal and unique to each individual because my mind immediately went to live without fear, which I have long recognized as one of my flaws. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of injury or even death, fear of disappointing… and the list goes on & on– have all been playing out in my life in different forms through various stages. It is the one thing I am certain that I need to overcome in order to attain my perfect state of Grace.
So, if fear is at the root of my life experiences— my thoughts pondered, is this true for everyone? I believe the answer is NO. Each individual has, at the root of his/her own experiences, that one overriding flaw that he/she are trying to work out. In this life, mine happens to be fear (I wonder why? Over and over again, I wonder why. And I wish I knew, but I think if I knew the inception of it, there would be no purpose in working through it.)
Next, I recognize fear as one of the Seven “Sins”; I quote that word because I don’t believe in sins. Instead, I conceptualize them as flaws. Without flaws, one would not have reason to return to physical life– there would be nothing to work out. Yes, I believe life is a purgatory of sorts– in a metaphoric sense. So I move on– I assume each individual is working on one of –what is so succinctly delineated as– the Seven Sins in an effort to achieve the Seven Virtues.
I conclude, the advice I’d give to my 16 year old self is to live by the Seven Virtues, all of them, as often as you can– don’t let any of the “sins” dictate the path of your life.
I am reminded of the film, Se7en, when Morgan Freeman’s character, Detective Somerset, states a quote by Ernest Hemingway: “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.” Now, Somerset admits he only agrees with the second part and, on most occasions, I would concur. However, without KNOWING the Seven Sins, I do not believe the Seven Virtues would be apparent to us. It’s like the idea of The Beauty and the Beast… one can not conceive of beauty unless one has seen its polarity.
Life is about polarities and the most fortunate of lives (those who see the world as a “fine place”) live more so by the goodness that exists within them.
So, while I think life is a journey, and that wisdom only comes through experience versus warning or advice, I do believe it is those little nuggets of wisdom passed on that resonate, ruminate, linger in your head. Sometimes you act upon them, and sometimes you don’t.