Have You Been to Disneyland?

One of the hardest questions to answer, artistically at least, is when to listen to other people and when to trust your gut. There’s no shortage of advice. People are more than happy to share what they think you should do, and where you missed, and how you could have done better.

And woe be the day that a few of these people tell you the same thing! It’s much easier than you think to start believing it.

I assure you, these people rarely know anything that applies.  They want to participate in the creative process via suggestion, and while there’s nothing wrong with the gesture, there’s everything wrong with listening to them. Everybody wants to help.

If you want to find out how difficult it is for humans to avoid this pitfall of “helping others,” you can test it with a social media post. It can be anything; people just want to participate. If I post on Facebook that I’m thinking about a vacation, I don’t even need to insert a question mark. Just a simple THINKING ABOUT A VACAY will generate a stack of comments telling you where you should go and what you should do.

None of this considers your budget or your wants, of course. It’s just strangers yelling what they want and know at you.

Have you been to Disneyland yet?

Branson is the greatest place on Earth!

I hear Port Arthur has a Janis Joplin museum!

Your Aunt Brenda, who’s only ever been to Cancun on a cruise ship, shouldn’t have any input. You should, however, keep a cadre of more knowledgeable folks around that you can ask for specific information. We need specialists, not Aunt Brenda. I’m not gonna tell you what to do with your vacation week, but have you ever had Red Lobster’s cheddar bay biscuits?

Because not all advice – no matter how well-intended – is good advice. You’re looking for scars. Eyepatches. Mud on the bumper. Somebody who can tell you how to get somewhere few other people have ventured, and certainly somewhere you’ve never gone before.

Brenda said the best margs and salsa she’s ever had were just a block from the cruise ship, but your gut says to rent a 4WD and head off into the jungle? Just go. You know what you want. And if you need some guidance once you’re out there, find someone there already.

And it’s the same with artistic advice. Usually, I prefer to thunk my head a bunch and figure things out on my own, but when I do listen, it’s to people who’ve already surpassed what I am currently attempting.