Friday, July 4, 2014

Suggestion Box

I haven't been good with suggestions. I've let them box me in.

Yesterday I wrote about struggling with food. Several friends offered advice, telling what they do. I've tended to reject that sort of thing.

Years ago, on a school field trip to the Adirondacks, we ran into a small crisis: rain. We needed a new plan for the morning. I was thinking fast. The other teachers knew me well enough to wait for me to form a plan. I was the most experienced in the group and could handle this. The school social worker didn't know me or teaching, but kept suggesting ideas. I shook off each suggestion and eventually told her to hush so I could think.

She was pretty offended, but I came up with a good idea, hashed it out with the others, and we got the job done. My idea was better than the social worker's and I was able to lead the group. Following the social worker in a crisis wasn't going to work. She wasn't a leader.

That, and I hate taking suggestions.

Last summer, my friend Jon, suggested a book. Most times someone suggests or hands me a book, I cringe. I feel obligated to them and how they felt about the book. It feels like an assignment. I usually hate book suggestions.

Jon, however, is brilliant and said, "I thought of you while reading this." The book and I fit together in his mind. That invitation worked on me. I read the book that week and loved it. I'm still honored he connected me with it.

Which brings me back to yesterday's post and my friends. I appreciate their suggestions much more than I did the social worker in the Adirondack rain. They were good ideas and I'm better at taking advice than I used to be. Still, I worry they will be offended when I set some of their advice aside. I want to be respectful of the gifts they've offered.

I'm not a kid any more. I don't have to follow advice to keep my friends happy. I just have to be grateful that for their offered help, thank them, and go on.

I don't have follow the advice or reject it. There is a more interesting place between those extremes in which I accept kindness and move forward. Their well-intentioned counsel becomes part of my decision making rather than replacing it. In this way I learn and grow rather than shrinking back or running away.

So thank you all for your advice. Hearing it, I'm still unsure what to do, but I'm surely surrounded by love and friendship which is about all I need in this life. That, and to write on.