Help is strangely, something we want to do without, as if the very idea disturbs and blurs the boundaries of our indidviual endeavors, as if we cannot face how much we need in order to go on. We are born with an absolute necessity for help, grow well only with a continuous succession of extended hands, and as adults depend upon others for our further successes and possibilities in life even as competent individuals. Even the most solitary writer needs a reader, the most Machiavellian mobster a trusted lieutenant, the most independent candidate, a voter.
~ David Whyte
I’ve been reading “Consolations”, by David Whyte, for the past couple months with two lovely friends, posting images each week to go along with that particular chapter. A wonderful book, a really insightful practice, something I’ve enjoyed a lot. Each topic – forgiveness, giving, gratitude – has brought it’s own gifts along the way.
This week’s topic is help. And as someone who has always been fairly independent, perhaps stubbornly so, it’s been a doozy. Especially when Whyte says, “To ask for help and to ask for the right kind of help and to feel that it is no less than our due as a live human being; to feel, in effect, that we deserve it, may be the engine of transformation itself.”
For a long time, I associated needing help with being weak. It took being quite ill, or in recovery from surgery or an injury, really, in order for me to even think of asking for help, for a very long time. I was always, at least in my mind, the helper, NOT the helpee, thank you very much. Paradoxically, it was in that being the helper, in being a coach, that I realized that asking for help was not only a marker of strength, but perhaps a strong indicator of being human. Still, it never occurred to me until very, very recently that both asking for and receiving help is an excellent agent for change.
As I go through a period of incredible shifts on a personal level, and in my work as well, I’m aware that many of us are doing just this right now. The time, I’m told, is ripe for transformation, for change on every level. We, as a species, have an opportunity to ride some unseen planetary winds and to allow ourselves to let go of the need to know what will happen next, to trust that all is well, that what is waiting for us is beyond words wonderful and good.
And now I’m wondering if the very key to that allowing is to ask for help as we go, to accept that we are all fully human and that we came here with the need to help and to be helped. I wonder if the transformation is in the acknowledgment, the seeing that we are whole and deserving of help. I wonder if we hold the key to transformation for each other, and if now is the time for us all to allow ourselves to accept that help, fully and with grace.
I wonder if walking through this life in good company is really what it’s all about.