birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Give Less, Get More

Advice. It’s something I like to give. I try to refrain from giving it unprompted but even if I stick to those occasions when someone asks for it, I’m sure I give more than was required or wanted. I like to think of myself as someone who is adept at the art of listening but I do love to expound. Sometimes I catch myself making stuff up as I go—not fabricating things, exactly—but putting weight and conviction behind a thought that I just came up with a second ago. And this gets passed off as advice if I’m not careful. That is troubling.

As I get older, there are fewer people to get advice from, more people looking to me for advice. I mean, I realize it’s not just age that gives someone the wisdom of experience. And even if it is just age-based, there are still plenty of people I can go to for advice. I’m just saying that I’ve noticed I’m doing less asking and finding myself being asked more. I don’t dislike this but I find it worrisome sometimes that I am so comfortable in the position of the sage. There is still so much I don’t know, so much I have to learn. I don’t want to be seduced into a state of inertia, smug and satisfied where I am. I want to keep asking for advice and gaining insight and perspective from other people’s experiences. I keep telling myself to stop talking so much, to listen more. Sometimes you actively seek advice but other times you glean from hanging back a little and being observant. I wonder what I might be missing when I’m so busy talking, talking, talking and giving advice.

Please Tell Me What Not to Do

I Do Not Recall