As a teenager, I read a lot of comics. I sometimes came across a character who looked alike from one story to another: the wise man at the top of the mountain. After a long perilous climb, we arrived at his house and, if he was in the mood, we had the right to ask him questions. Reclusive and eccentric, he still delivered advice of great wisdom to whoever wanted it.
I would never have dared to tell anyone about it, but while most of my friends wanted to be a policeman, firefighter, rock star, millionaire or some combination of the four, I imagined myself as a sage from the top of the mountain. Quiet most of the time, perhaps with a stoic dog to keep me company, I’d be there, ready to divulge my knowledge, years of life distilled into a short sentence, but with a hard-hitting truth.
Common Phrase: “Find what you love to do in life and get paid to do it.” “Very close, I got there. I am an editor, and my role, all the same a little more modest, is to advise authors on how to improve their texts. I am at the top of my little mountain, in a way, for those who feel that I can help them. And I love my job! Because honestly, who doesn’t dream of giving advice? If “wise from the top of the mountain” was a real job, everyone would want it.
But the problem with advice is that we like to give it a lot, but we don’t like to receive it so much. At least, if one bothers to climb a mountain to receive one, it is a voluntary gesture. But most of those we receive are unsolicited.
Many wise men from the top of the mountain live among us.
As soon as they leave the house, my friends who have babies create riots worthy of the Beatlemania era: the more experienced mothers run after them with suggestions that sound a bit like orders. If they really need it, they’ll go see the wise man up the mountain, or go to Walmart; it sells framed advice ready to hang on walls.
Women, in general, get lectured a lot. By other women, but also by men, even when the suggestions given relate to the female experience. (We’re all familiar with the concept of “mansplaining,” huh.) Sometimes you even detect a little condescending tone. It looks like a judgment, the air of nothing. It says, “Pardon me, shouldn’t you do this or that?” but it sounds like, “Honestly!” What are you doing there? Well, that’s not how I do it. It doesn’t make sense, your business! »
Just as I don’t run after people on the street to offer them editorial advice that would have little relevance to their day-to-day lives, the people around me don’t want to be yelled at head of opinions disguised as pearls of wisdom by strangers.
Keeping our opinion for those who ask for it is undoubtedly very good advice. If, like me, you dream of spreading your wisdom, find yourself a mountain, sit on top and wait for people to come see you. The most effective advice will always be the one you want to receive.
And, for my part, I am very bad adviser on everything that does not concern literature. I once told a friend that he should buy a futon instead of a mattress (it’s expensive for nothing!) and I still live with the weight of guilt every time he tells me about his strange lower back pain.
[Public Notice: If you have ever fallen victim to my financial or love life advice, I apologize. I barely know what the letters in RRSP mean, I’m bad at math, and my love life has been built on the concept of trial and error (with lots of mistakes). I do not know anything about it. Sorry !]
I’d rather be the wise one at the top of the mountain than the tiresome one who imagines that what worked for him will also work for others. When I come down from the mountain, I try to listen rather than talk. It’s not always easy (advice comes so quickly), but it’s much wiser.