Advice

One of the reasons I hesitated so long before starting a blog is that I didn’t think I had enough material to be proud of, that I would want to post consistently. To be brutally honest, I don’t feel like writing anything at all, except for lamenting my own emotional turmoil, which I created myself, and that’s something I’m not going to do here. Forgive the lack of inspiration and conviction in what follows…

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So I think I’ll talk about advice. I went on a hike last fall to Decew Falls near St. Catharines. Having never been there before, I decided to check out the website first, I wanted to know where to park and what how many trail heads I should expect. While reading the information, I also read that it was recommended that this hike shouldn’t be done solo. Being a public organization, most likely over-vigilant about public safety, I thought to myself that doing the hike solo would not be a problem at all. They were likely just covering their asses in case of any potential lawsuits.

So let’s just say I’m not really dumb. I went on the hike, told people where I was going and how long I would be. Just in case, a serial killer was on the loose and  a 6’4″ 240lb guy was their type. I started out on the hike and saw one set of falls, which I knew wasn’t the falls that I really came to see. The falls go into a river, as most do, and that river is in a gorge. The trail starts at the top of the falls and you have to walk parallel to the river on top of the gorge, moving away from the falls. I met a really nice couple at the trail head when I started the hike. We started down the groomed trail, moving further and further away from our goal. The trail head was slightly sloped, but not that much, looking down into gorge, we were probably 60-70ft above the river. There were many spots where it was clear other people decided to trek down the gorge to the river, moving off of the trail head. That looked enticing, so I thought about it a couple times, but decided to stay with my new found friends.

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After more hiking along the trail for what seemed like hours (probably like 15 more minutes), and not seeing where the trail connected with the river, I decided to trek down the gorge instead of continuing on the trail. The couple I was with decided to keep on going with the trail, so I was solo again. Again, I’m not all that dumb, I had my phone and was constantly keeping in contact with someone in case I fell, or a raccoon decided to get a little too frisky. Jumping from tree to tree down the incredibly steep incline I remember thinking to myself, this is why you’re not supposed to solo this hike. If I had fell I would have rolled to the bottom, hitting numerous trees on the way and landing on piles of very soft looking rocks. It could have ended badly. As I said, I was messaging someone the whole time. On my descent, about 15 feet from reaching the trail running along the river that headed back towards the falls, my phone died. I didn’t calculate the poor signal strength, in a fucking gorge, and that my phone would die sooner than expected. As I said, I’m not really dumb, just a bit.

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Thankfully, I sustained no injuries. I waded into the shallow river, and trekked back up towards the falls to start taking pictures. Less than 10 minutes later, my old companions joined me, saying that the trail connected to the river only a short distance after I left them. We took pictures of the falls, walked back along the trail to a small pond with a tire swing and even saw the sunset through the forest once we returned to the main trail.

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So… advice. Should I have listened to the website and not gone solo? Well I had a lot of fun doing what I did actually so that’s an interesting question. Would I have been more safe? Would the people I was messaging have been more comfortable knowing I wasn’t alone? Those answers are probably both yes. In the more general sense advice is tough to master, because differently personalities react to it differently. I’m impressionable, I look to have my own feelings or thoughts validated before I move forward with them, I’m trying to counteract this a bit and start making my own decisions without seeking outside validation first, but it’s difficult. Now for me, when I’m given advice I’m more likely to accept it, to follow it, because I wouldn’t have had to have gone through the hard work of discovering my own thoughts and feelings first.  The problem with that is that I’ll likely blame the advice if things don’t turn out the way I want them, or if something goes wrong. I’ll take responsibility for all my own decisions, but my brain will deflect the blame. My thoughts will be ‘well I didn’t make this decision, I just went along with it’. The first problem is that going ‘along with it’ is a decision in and of itself. The second problem is that this is really a weak-minded and lazy thing to do in the first places . So, be careful who you give advice to and what advice you give. I believe that a person’s intentions should also be counted when looking at what a person’s actions are. If you are giving advice, I understand that you’re most likely trying to help, but help is not always what you’ll be providing. I’m working on myself to better at receiving advice with a grain of a salt. (That phrase by the way, comes from an antidote to a poison from a long time ago. So if people would threaten you with the poison, you could “take it with a grain of salt” and wouldn’t have to worry about the poison. Therefore: skepticism). I’m going to focus on making my own decisions and taking advice merely as opinions. I’m going to do the hard work whether or not it seems like it’s already done for me or not.

-Ben

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