I've scribbled the alphabet for meaning since I can remember.
A good friend presented me with a byzantine problem recently. It had everything: sex, divorce, international consequence, lawyers, family, surgery and chocolate. Heather wound me through her circuitous predicament, heaved and exhaled, letting loose her biggest fear:
“I don’t want to be a burden, to anyone.”
It’s funny when your own words hit you in the face. Hard.
On a much smaller scale, I was confronted with my same idiocy a few months earlier. I was hosting a retreat and everything had to be perfect. Translation: I had to do it all. By the time the retreat was over I had: a huge fight with a good friend, a broken car, an exhausted guest speaker, and I believe my kidneys packed their bags and abdicated my poor form.
Did I realize this at the time? No. Of course not.
I remained sour for a bit; ego a little scuffed; exhaustion that needed quite a bit of time to rectify (hint mental-emotional exhaustion can be much more insidious than physical exhaustion); however, I did recognize that something needed to change that if I was ever going to do that again, I would have to do it better.
So I worked on it.
What does that mean, Kate?
“Well,” I snidely say, coffee in hand. “I dunno.” And that’s the truth. It means I thought about it, journaled about it, sat and meditated about it. Listened to circumstances that were around me about it; I observed. I don’t know when or how or what exact practice happened – maybe someone that loves me prayed about it: “Please God, don’t let Kate go ballistic again.” Maybe it’s a million things or the right moment, but I gave it enough attention that something changed.
How do I know?
Well, I did it again. And this time: I called one person to help with furniture, and another to help with food. I called one friend for location, and another for promotion. The phone kept ringing and people would say things like: “Is there anything else I can do?” or “Oh, this is nothing. I am glad I could help.”
Glad I could help? Wait, you mean I don’t have the corner market on helping? You mean I can RECEIVE help? It blew my mind. Now, old habits die-hard and there were a few moments that I had to remind myself: Kate, it’s ok that Billie pours the lemonade or that Hoku serves the salmon. Was this me abdicating my responsibilities?
It turns out: No.
It was me sharing the beauty of giving and reserving enough of my energy to sit and talk with people that have questions, to lend a hand to an elderly aunty, to, wait for, it…have enough energy to start the next day smiling, instead of scouring over how much help I was giving.
It turns out that the love you make is equal to the love you take, but if you don’t allow yourself a portion of the pie, you go hungry. Starving, actually, and then no one is nourished.
That is what I realized when Heather told me her fear of depending on others. And that’s it, isn’t it? If we don’t depend on others, we aren’t vulnerable. If we aren’t vulnerable, we can’t get hurt. But if we stand with our arms crossed, we can’t catch the warmth of the sun.
It became so clear that Tuesday morning at 7:38am HST; I had cleared a corner, a small one, but at least I had proof now that you could ask for help and it could make things better, nay easier, for everyone and instead of being disappointed I could be elated.
Funny how those things go. In the famous song, The Beatles explain that:“When I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help in any way.”
But that’s not true. We come into this world completely dependent. Then our minds separate into “mine” and not “mine” as we begin to sift out Self.
I would argue not only do we have a human problem of not being genuinely compassionate to the needs of others, but also quite largely to the needs of our self. I mean soul nourishing needs, not new clothing-new-gadget-sugar-fizz needs.
“Heather, I’m telling you,” I shift closer to her, squeaking the plastic lawn chair across the concrete of another Kaua’i morning. “I got clear, that without help I simply wasn’t going to be able to so ‘this,’” I swish my hand around the retreat grounds. “You know what happened? Seriously this sounds like crap, but I so badly wanted this to go better that I actually conceded – almost baited and begged the universe – for help. And these calls came from absolutely no where.”
“No seriously, all this help came and you know what I realized?”
“How absolutely ignorant and selfish of me to think I knew it all - could do it all, PERFECTLY, on my own.”
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