The Buddhists have this idea that every person you encounter has a message for you. If you learn to listen, the theory is, you’ll know what path to follow in life.
I think there’s some truth in this.
I also think the people who thought this up lived in a much smaller society where they met only a few hundred people in their entire lives. That’s about two minutes on Twitter. Do I think every person on Twitter has a message for me that will illuminate my life’s path?
Oh no no no.
That actually sounds more like a Jim Carey movie than the road to enlightenment.
So , the point is, you have to be discerning and know which messages to listen to. The crazy guy preaching on the subway? Probably not. Your well-meaning senior colleague offering advice on keeping your job “in this economy?” Hmm. The family member throwing the word “selfish” at you because you’re not doing what they want you to? Uh, definitely not.
As with many aspects of life, it comes down to considering the source.
The other day one of my writing buddies wrote a post about taking critique. She mentioned a scene that five of her six readers/critique partners loved and one hated. Because she didn’t want a sixth of her potential readers turned off, she made revisions. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. Except that I thought I probably would not have made the revision, had it been me.
Now, I’m not saying I think she was wrong to do it. There may be a deeper level to this in that the comments of the “hater” resonated with her and that’s what really drove her to make the change. Very likely she trusted the source.
Trusting the source becomes key. When your best friend gently takes your hand and tells you that the lipstick you’re wearing makes you look like a plague victim, if you trust her, you know she’s looking out for you and not cutting you down. When a stranger comes up to and offers a piece of information that answers the question you’ve been asking in your head, trusting that is an act of faith in the world.
I think that’s what the Buddhists were getting at.