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The Importance of a Good Guide

I don’t think you can underestimate the value of a good guide. One that brings you further into the journey and equally enjoys it with you. Their enjoyment is not only derived from the territory they have become an expert in but also from an opportunity to connect another person with something they care for. A lousy guide, on the other hand, is just as effective in the opposite direction.

Because no good lesson goes without a story, my wife and I decided to celebrate our last anniversary in Nashville, tackling their local restaurant scene. Because that is sometimes what adventure looks like, food.

If you’ve never been, Nashville is not short on various and extravagant cuisines.

We made sure our priorities were in order before we left and had dinner reservations before booking our room. Our last night was one of the most anticipated places that came highly recommended by friends and reviews. We arrived, were greeted, and promptly sat. The menus were presented, and as I began to read, I realized that it was written in some lost language that included English and Italian, maybe even a cipher for which no one gave us the key. We needed help desperately. When the waiter showed up, he didn’t seem excited to be there and much less about our attendance. We asked for recommendations, and I think he just pointed to things on the menu and said, “that’s good .”No reasoning, no desire to match our preferences with the menu and not even a spark of excitement for us to experience a well-curated meal.

Our appetizer came, and we received a plate of fried vegetables while other tables ordered beautiful burrata salads made from garden fresh veggies (some I had never seen before, like they were grown on an alien planet) paired with a beautiful fig and honey glaze. I’m not even kidding. My wife bit into a fried lemon because you couldn’t tell what was what.

Our frustration grew, and instead of banding together, we aimed at more familiar targets, each other.

If you’ve never had a petty quarrel with your spouse at an overpriced restaurant two feet away from the closest table, I don’t recommend it.  Before the night was over, we mended our difference and realized the importance of an involved and caring guide. Something so simple as dining at a restaurant can be enhanced by the enthusiasm of someone who has been there—someone to show you the ropes and move you closer to enjoying the experience.

But isn’t that what we’re supposed to do with the people around us? Not only to offer instruction but walk with them and help point out the beauty of life’s adventures.

This is not an older-to-younger benefit only.

This is a person-to-person, life-to-life benefit, like teaching the joy of parenting while understanding the difficulty because you may be a little further down the road in your life. Or it is integrating technology into the lives of people from past generations that didn’t have the benefit of growing up with this privilege. It requires patience, engagement, and understanding to be a guide. We have the benefit of connection like never before in human history, and shouldn’t part of our mission be to help others enjoy the journey of life as we engage from our own experiences?

January 2023

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