“Be gullible”, he said.
It was in the middle of a list of life’s maxims, collected wisdoms of a man of collected decades. We had started a roaring conversation before I had even found my seat.
“We saved you a window seat,” a voice said to my left.
I was trying to not bump people with my carry on and search my ticket for my seat number. I stowed my carry on and crawled over my two seat mates to the window. We chatted about where we had been and why, the weather, the sights, my job, his job, and other assorted bits of our lives. The woman on the isle looked over at us several times. I couldn’t decide if it was because she wished we would shut up so she could sleep, or in awe at our easy conversation. The plane took off. I was so absorbed in the conversation that I didn’t notice the part where I normally hold my breath and wonder what I am doing voluntarily shooting through the air in a silver tube.
Be gullible. That is not something you are normally counseled to do. Be careful. Don’t talk to strangers. Watch your back. All those things are commonly advised, but be guillible? It was incongruous in a list of how to live well.
But is it?
If you are gullible, then you are soft. You are open. You are able to be hurt or taken, but it also means you are not walled off and defensive. Maybe you experience more because you aren’t pushing away. It means you don’t protect yourself overly from others. Maybe that means you believe the best in people first rather than demanding proof of goodness before you trust. And how much proof? For how long, as life flies by.
It is an open, raw, and vulnerable way to go around in the world. But, maybe, like the delicate, exquisitely-sensed new skin after a burn, it can feel a breath of air, or a kiss in a way a tough hide never could.
What do you think “Be Gullible” means? Do you think it has any value as a piece of advice? Would you tell your kids that?