The other day, a photographer friend posted a picture of a sign on Facebook which I liked very much:
To me, it always seems weird to see “no lifeguard” signs, because there are no warning signs for the things I think are the most dangerous. Sure, we have traffic signs, beware of dog signs, mind the gap signs and such–signs for all of the physical danger we might get into. For situational and emotional danger, there’s nothing. We have to plunge into metaphorically dangerous emotional waters completely unprotected, with only our own skill and wisdom to protect us. For some of us, that means life is much more risky than for others. Yes, I was kind of calling myself an emotional dumbass. Kind of. Again. Yes, I really am trying to be nicer when I talk to myself. I am.
There are people who give us advice, but how often do we listen? I wonder if it’s more or less often than we pay attention to lifeguard signs?
A colleague told me about someone she knows who is about to get a marriage proposal from a man whose character is made up entirely of red flags. He is an unemployed ex-con who just got out of jail for holding a gun to his baby mama’s head during an argument about the fact that he doesn’t pay any child support. Her friend won’t listen to her loved ones when they voice their concerns, but maybe if he had a danger sign stapled to his forehead she’d recognize that there is some truth to what her friends have been telling her. Or maybe not. People do tend to be oddly blind to the faults of people they have been dating for only a few weeks.
I have ignored a lot of excellent advice over the years. Advice from family. From friends. Nothing Earth-shattering. Advice to talk to people more. Advice to eat more vegetables. Advice to brush my hair out of my eyes so people can see my pretty face–thanks, Gramma, my bangs are still in my eyes! Warnings about what happens to girls who date their college instructors. Warnings about men who were not worth the emotional energy I was putting into them. Warnings FROM men that they weren’t worth it.
On a few occasions, I’ve even ignored advice from attorneys. It takes a special person to ignore legal advice, don’t you think? In one case, it was only advice about money, so I still think I did the right thing by not taking the advice. I felt like it was wrong for me to go after money I didn’t think I was entitled to, even if I was legally entitled to it according to a lawyer. In the other case, it really would have been smarter to heed the advice. There were some pretty serious potential repercussions to what I was planning to do, even a very small chance of jail time. It worked out fine, but only because I was lucky. Even in that case, I still think I was morally right for doing what I did. Legally not bright though.
One thing I’m sure of is that I would have been really pissed off if my Mother had been able to tell me “I told you so.”
Maybe a danger sign would help people like me.
It really couldn’t hurt.
*Thanks, Cheryl, for letting me use the sign!