He Who Doesn’t Hear Advice Will Not Make It To Old Age
“This time baby I’ll be bullet proof.”
How many of us would not like to make this statement with utter certainty? Could we, who knows how much farther our self-inflicted thresholds for pain and drama could expand. Certainly beyond any current limitations, learned or otherwise, we’ve placed on ourselves until now. Those points we all reach where we know not even another single step is possible without certain demise or at least a very undesirable and unpleasant experience afterwards.
And though La Roux’s rendition of Bullet Proof, like so many other songs, is every bit the anthem for the sexiness of a carefree existence, life always has a way of knocking us back down to reality where the old adage of el que no oye consejo no llega a viejo still stands accurate.
In truth, history has a way of repeating itself, and despite our most fervent efforts, sooner or later we find the very words we couldn’t stand hearing ourselves departing our own lips, landing on the ears of someone new, causing them all sorts of anger and frustration, making them promise themselves they will never engage in the same rhetoric. Many won’t, and perhaps they are the lucky ones. Yet siding on the face of experience one cannot deny the wisdom of words such as these. Even at their sound we know deep down inside they carry truth.
For me they were the words used to guilt me into doing something I didn’t want to do or stopping me from doing something I really wanted to do. Pues si no quieres entender haya tu…uno les da el consejo y hace lo que puede, pero si ustedes no quieren hacer caso que puede hacer uno*, those words are still etched into my brain, and every once in a while they still make a reappearance in my parents’ vocabulary towards me, more my mother tan my father to be honest. Like any good Mexican mother she always knew her strongest ally against us was guilt, and she used it well.
From the time I was a child and I’d throw tantrums threatening to leave home for good she’d slyly throw her hands up and say okay well if that’s what you want, what can I do? If we were at the store and I insisted she buy me a toy I wanted after she told me no more than five times: bueno si no quieres comer haz lo que quieras…yo vine a comprar la comida para tener algo en la casa para que coman, pero si no quieres, mejor compramos eso y nos vamos**. Later it became well if you don’t want to go to church y estar cerca de Dios what can I do? If I have to do everything and you don’t want to help me, pobrecito de ti…that shows how much respect and affection you have for your mother. If you want to waste all the sacrifices we made for you to have a better life here, and not go to school, it will make me really sad and disappointed but it’s your choice.
I could go on forever, but almost always these words were followed by the disclaimer that she was telling me for my own good, por tu bien,no por el mio, because she cared about me, and if she didn’t she wouldn’t tell me anything at all. The irony, which I learned much later, after many years of life teaching me the same lessons in a much harsher way, was that she was.
That’s why the first time I realized her expressions were coming out of my mouth there was sadness in them. All the emotion of arguing with my parents, the cynicism of my attitude, the thinking they were just crazy, she was just crazy, stuck in her old Mexican ways, not savvy enough to understand the American way of doing things, came back to me. The hopelessness of knowing what I was saying was going in one ear and coming out the other, or not even registering at all, made us one, united us in a deeper sense, as if I’d reached some milestone in life. The turning point perhaps, where I’d now be the one standing on the sidelines praying for the best, helpless to the mistakes being made in front of me, able to offer nothing more than advice and support.
The only consolation, knowing that sooner or later words always have a way of sinking in, especially if they are repeated often, over and over. El que no eschucha consejo no llega a viejo.
* Well if you don’t want to understand that is your problem…we try to give you advice and point you in the right direction, but if you won’t listen, what can we do?
** Well if you don’t want to eat, do what you want…I came to buy groceries so that you would have something to eat at home, but if you don’t want to, we can just buy that and leave now
What a great post, written with beauty and heart. I’m cheered by your mother’s way of trying to guide you with “what can we do?” My mother said the same thing with silence, and I wish I could have listened more deeply. On the other hand, if any of us could have done anything differently, we would have, so it’s all fine as it was and is.
Gail…your words are music to my ears. Please keep coming back often and with your comments 🙂