Lament of the Lonely Runner

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She runs alone

with no partner, friend, coach or team

to while away the hours

as the kilometres plod by

 

Time in her head

her own company she keeps

She sings to herself

to keep the rhythm in her feet

and silently screams at the voices

that tell her to stop

that she can’t do it

that she shouldn’t be there

 

She revisits past troubles

and reviews ones yet to come

She rewrites past conversations

and rehearses ones that have to come

 

It has always been thus

and she has met the challenges

she has set for herself

and overcome them

Alone

 

And she has not minded

the time alone

She is alone

but not lonely

 

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Until today

 

Today the loneliness strikes hard

Even the usual fleeting connections

with strangers on the track

a smile, a wave, a breathless ‘Hello’

are rare on this cold and blustery winter day

as sensible people stay indoors

curled up on the couch

watching their footy team play

 

Perhaps, in these days of reduced social interaction

this introvert has had too much of a good thing

like an overly restrictive diet

As coffee dates and drinks and dinners out

have all but disappeared

perhaps loneliness has put a foot in the door

 

The loneliness in her life

finds its way onto the track

 

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As the kilometres of bitumen

pass endlessly by

under her pounding feet

she questions this life choice

this pursuit of isolation

And she knows

 

Because loneliness is hard

but also all too easy

 

She questions her value as a friend

to all but a tiny few

Reaching out is easy when one feels

one’s value to the other

 

She knows she is appreciated

for her willingness to help

and her acts of generosity

She knows she is respected

for her tenacity in the face of challenge

and her passion for justice

 

But she longs to be loved

for her sense of humour

and her addiction to American late night talk shows

for her innate childish silliness

and her ridiculous dance moves

for her love of cosplay

and musicals and themed birthday parties

 

She wishes her annoying traits

that keep her from friendship

could be softened and understood

couched in an understanding

of her shyness and social awkwardness

her need for order

and her belief that life should be fair and just

 

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As she reaches the end

the thoughts ease for now

and she knows

tomorrow she will lace these shoes again

and run

alone again

 

Always alone

but not always lonely

 

 

The Gift That Counts

Last year I celebrated a significant birthday. As much as I tried to bury it in a marathon effort and fundraising for refugees, there were friends and family who still snuck in some gift-giving.

I received some wonderful presents from people who clearly know me well. The generosity of my work colleagues blew me away and also their perspicacity in choosing a gift that happened to be on my bucket list – a session in a flotation tank.

Birthday gifts that also made me happy were the many friends and members of the family who generously supported my bid to raise money for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Surely the best birthday presents help someone else in need.

ASRC Fundraising

However, the birthday gift that touched me most deeply and for which I was most grateful did not come wrapped in colourful paper.

A few weeks before my birthday, a friend asked if I could babysit their baby son so she and her partner could go out for a date night. I eagerly agreed. With three now-grown sons, time with baby boys is always a joy. With an arrival time set on 6pm, my friend insisted that she provide me with a meal. I argued that it was ridiculous to be going out for dinner and still have to provide a meal and I was more than happy to provide for myself. She insisted again and stated she already had it planned. I reluctantly agreed.

I arrived at the appointed time and was surprised to see her mother and brother there but then inwardly shrugged and decided it must be a family dinner out.

As I stood there, waiting for them to leave, my friend looked at me, smiled and said, “You’re not babysitting.”

“What?” I said.

“You’re not babysitting. My brother is babysitting and we are taking you out for dinner.”

“What?”

“We’re taking you out for an early birthday dinner.”

I stared at each of them trying to comprehend. Then it dawned on me. And then the tears welled up.

In a year when my trust in friendship had been badly shaken…

In a year when I wondered if my worth lies only in what I can do and not in who I am…

In a year when I felt so confused about how to read people’s motives that I have become increasingly socially reclusive…

…Such a gift was unexpected.

More was in store as I arrived at the restaurant to find other friends part of the secret. More emotion. More confusion and joy.

I received some wonderful gifts from people who took time to think carefully about what I would like and I will treasure them always.

But, in the end, all any of us really wants is to know we are loved and wanted for who we are and for others to want to spend time with us. That is a gift that truly counts.

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What is the gift that truly counts for you?

 

The Best of Friends

friends

What makes the best of friends?

The best of friends stick with you through the good times and the bad.

The best of friends do not abandon you when life changes.

The best of friends forgive your mistakes, thoughtless words and careless actions. Time and time again.

The best of friends are there for you when you need them even if you haven’t spoken in a year.

The best of friends receive an offer of help with joy and not a sense of obligation because they know that helping them makes you happy.

The best of friends can pick up where you left off no matter how much time has passed.

The best of friends let you know where you stand and tell you to your face when you’re being a pain.

The best of friends celebrate your successes and mourn your losses.

The best of friends never leave you hanging.

The best of friends take a genuine interest in your passions even when they are not their own.

The best of friends can live close or far, see you every day or only once a year but are always your friend.

The best of friends can read between the lines and respond to what has not been said.

The best of friends know the worst sides of you but love you anyway.

The best of friends are a rare and precious gift.

 

What makes the best of friends for you?

 

 

 

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An Imaginary Friend

Imaginary Friend

Me and My Imaginary Friend

Have you ever had an imaginary friend? Do you have an imaginary friend now?

If you once had an imaginary friend, I feel very happy for you.

If you have an imaginary friend now, I feel even more happy for you. (You thought I was going to say I feel worried for you, didn’t you?)

I think I’d rather like to have an imaginary friend now, at my age.

But that’s a discussion for another time. It’s not actually what this post is about.

Sometimes, a random thought will come wandering into my head like a lost tourist, plonk itself down on its suitcase in the middle of my thoughts and wait for me to ask if there’s anything I can do for it.

The latest one was this:

“I wonder what it would be like to be an imaginary friend?”

Let’s think about that, shall we?

You’d never have to feel guilty for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the right time or the right place at the wrong time. An imaginary friend always has perfect timing.

You’d never have to take your foot out of your mouth or apologise for saying something thoughtless, hurtful or stupid. An imaginary friend always knows the right thing to say.

You’d never have to agonise over a gift, wondering if it’s appropriate or too much or too little. An imaginary friend always buys awesome imaginary gifts with his/her imaginary millions.

You’d never have to second guess yourself about whether you were a good friend or not. An imaginary friend has absolute confidence.

You’d never have to make conversation with other friends or relatives of your friend, especially those with political views that make your blood boil. An imaginary friend is invisible to everybody else.

You’d never have to worry about posting the wrong thing on Facebook or Twitter or forgetting to reply to an email from your friend. Imaginary people don’t have Facebook or Twitt….er….acc…..ounts….. Okay, you might have to wear that one.

What would it be like to be an imaginary friend?

I reckon it would be freakin’ awesome!

How about you?

 

 

 

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Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane?

It’s [insert favourite superhero here]!

Superheroes are all the rage at the moment, have you noticed?

Marvel is raking in the millions with movie franchises based on individuals (Captain America, Iron-man, Spiderman, Thor) and ensembles (The Avengers) while their television shows (Agent Carter, Agents of Shield, Daredevil) draw millions of viewers.

DC Comics isn’t doing so well on the movie front these days (Batman vs Superman) but the television DC world is thriving (Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl).

For a geeky household like ours, this growing popularity of geek culture is very welcome. Superheroes everywhere! (Why else would I have a caped crusader for an avatar? Even if it is an un-Masterly one.)

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But superheroes don’t just live in comic books and on the silver screen. They are all around us. Sure, they may not fly or have superhuman strength or even possess the coolest toys but I’ll bet you know one.

It’s the friend who has endured overwhelmingly difficult life challenges but still smiles and offers her gifts and talents for the enjoyment of others.

It’s the one who has suffered unimaginable loss but has learned to love and laugh again.

It’s the friend who despite financial struggles continues to give generously to others.

It’s the one who chooses to follow her heart and with courage step out to start a business, move to another country, launch a new career or begin a new life on her own.

It’s the friend who fights and defeats a serious illness.

It’s the one who makes you believe you can do anything.

Superheroes are all around us, quietly going about their lives often oblivious to the inspiration they are to the rest of us. They don’t have magical powers or a fancy suit or a cape but they are our real heroes.

I recently chose to acknowledge one of the superheroes in my life by making her a cape for her birthday. I think all the heroes who work magic in our lives should have a cape. Sorry Edna.

Who are the superheroes in your life?

 

 

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The Friends That Scare You

I have the unerring ability to attract a certain type of person. Like flies to a cowpat. Okay, that’s not very savoury. Like bees to honey. Well, that’s just ridiculous. Bees are attracted to pollen in order to make honey. Like moths to a flame. Well, that’s a bit derivative. Like goats to a cabbage. Better, but it’s a bit early for Chinese New Year. Like…

You know what? Forget the analogy. Just trust me that it happens.

There is, within my psyche, a need to draw to myself Button Pushers, Gauntlet Throwers, Challengers, Comfort Zone Destroyers…. you get the picture.

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These are the ones who say “You should run a half-marathon”, “Come along to this songwriting circle and write and perform your own songs”, “I want you to play a part in this play and you’ll need a Yorkshire accent”, “You’re a great writer, you should start a blog”.

In response, every shy and insecure cell in my body (which is, let’s face it, most of them) starts screaming, “NOOOOOOOO!”

But the reckless, unthinking, adrenaline junkie who lurks in my dark corners, always gets her way.

“OKAY!” she says while I try and work out how that happened.

One of the Button Pushers had her way with me a couple of weeks ago. We were due to catch up and in response to the question of what we should do, having been stuck at home with three teenage boys for a very long, long summer holidays, I said, “Something girly. And creative.” More fool me.

A plan was hatched and I was not to know what it was, only that I was to dress respectably but with comfortable walking shoes. That’s the other thing they do, you know. Spring it on you so you don’t have time to back out.

Setting off together, all was revealed. I was handed a small knapsack that contained a selection of art supplies – paints, pencils, pens, sketch paper. We were going on an urban art excursion.

“You’re gonna make me draw…. in public??!

Well, I did ask for something creative.

You know those teen horror flicks where the friend dares the other friend to walk in the creepy forest or sleep in the haunted house? This was like that, only more cultured.

The first stop was our State Library, a grand old building with a breathtaking domed reading room. I don’t know if it was the permeation of decades of higher learning but I found the experience intimidating and I was depressed by my efforts.

Art Excursion 1

This is not what left the library. At the Boundary Pusher’s insistence, I added the middle bit with the arches and gave it a bit of watercolour after the event. It made me feel a little bit better. Maybe.

The next stop was beside the river. Maybe it was the open air, or the gently flowing water, or maybe it was the boathouses across the river and the scullers going past that made me feel more in my element. I was happier but still not convinced.

Art Excursion 2

There was to have been a nature element to our excursion with a visit to the extensive Botanic Gardens but by then the temperature was into the 30s and tea and cake sounded more appealing. This was the girly part. Tea in china pots and teeny cakes served on white tablecloths at the swishy little café attached to the Art Gallery.

The table had white paper overlaid on the linen tablecloth. And this was an art excursion. (I like to carry a purple pen. I feel like Harold and his crayon.)

It has taken days to prepare this post and quite some measure of nerve to bring myself to make my art pieces public. I am yet to be convinced I possess any real artistic ability.

But that is what the Button Pushers are for, aren’t they? To believe in you more than you believe in yourself. To push you out beyond the view you hold of yourself.

And so, despite my fears, I am truly grateful for the friends that scare me because I would achieve nothing without them.

But I’m not sleeping in a haunted house.

 

 

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Two Degrees of Facebook

So, we all know the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, right? And probably its derivative Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. (Excuse the use of Wikipedia but I’m not explaining rocket science. And if it’s good enough for our Federal Environment Minister to use to disprove a link between climate change and increased bushfire intensity then I think I’m safe in this instance.)

Let me assume that it doesn’t take a mathematician (I am one but that’s irrelevant) to work out that this theory is seriously out of date in this age of social media.

It all came home to me when I inadvertently wandered into the ‘People You May Know’ section of Facebook.

I was bored so I scrolled down the list. Lots of people I kind of know, lots of people I don’t know at all but are friends with my friends so Facebook (who wants the whole world to be friends, bless ’em) thinks I should be friends with them too, and people I know who are friends with other people I know but whom I did not know were friends with the people I know.

It’s all a little bit creepy.

And then there’s the suggestion of people you don’t know and who also seem not to have any mutual friends in common. What’s with that?

I usually try to be friends with people I want to be Friends with (with a capital F) so I ignored Facebook’s suggestions.

And having recently learned that a flesh and blood, pre-social media, long-term friend has just been through a really rough time, I think my energies are best spent on those with whom I have a Real Life One Degree of Separation relationship. But thanks anyway, Facebook.

FB Friends Sesame Street

Six Degrees of Sesame Street (I’d be friends with these folks – especially that fabulous Mr S.)

 

 

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Why The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On

My friend who died last week was a stalwart of the local theatre scene. As an actor, writer, director, singer, mentor and founder – along with his wife – of his own theatre company, any person involved in local theatre would have been touched by his life in some way.

I’m currently rehearsing for a play with his theatre company which is due to open in less than three weeks. A number of friends, when they heard the news of his death, assumed that the play would have to be cancelled. Admittedly they were non-theatre friends. When I explained that of course the play would go on, they looked at me askance. My response? “Theatre people.”

“The show must go on” may seem like a trite cliché to outsiders but to theatre people, it is what they live by. We could no more stop the play from going ahead than stop the rest of the world from going on its merry way. Anyone who has experienced grief knows, to quote another seeming cliché, that “life will go on” even if at times that seems impossible.

“The show must go on” is just the theatre world’s version of “life will go on”.

The play is one by Agatha Christie. It’s the third Agatha Christie play I’ve been involved in, the two previous productions having been directed by my friend. What more fitting way to honour his memory than to do what he loved?

Besides, I’m pretty sure he would be sending thunderbolts down on us all if we dared to cancel. “What are you thinking?” he would say. “The show must go on!”

And so it will, my friend. And so it will.

 

 

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Grief and Story

Grief and Story

A dear friend of mine died the other day. He was an irascible old bugger but one of the biggest supporters of my writing.

I once wrote a short story for his wife (another of my biggest supporters) as a thankyou for a theatre piece I was involved in with the theatre company started by them both. He was a tad jealous, I think. He wrote to me soon after and said how much he had enjoyed the story and so he thought he would write a sequel to it.  This he duly did and emailed it to me. In response, I emailed back a continuance of what he had started.

And thus a back-and-forth formation of a story developed. That is, until the day he asked if he could make some minor alterations to the last bit I had sent him. I agreed but when he sent back my bit with his next bit added, only about 300 words of my more than 800 word contribution remained. I then suggested that perhaps he should drive the story home as he obviously had more invested in how it should end than I.

He hadn’t thought he’d done anything wrong. When his wife pointed out how hurtful and inappropriate his action had been, he was mortified. Such a frustratingly endearing man.

I had thought we were just having a bit of fun with the story and so in one of my additions, I moved the action to Peru. There might have been a bit of political intrigue in there. When you’re just writing for fun, it’s no holds barred so why not be ludicrous?

Unbeknownst to me, my lovely writing partner was actually formulating a plan to present the story as a radio script at a performance opportunity.

What??

It went ahead. I was slightly embarrassed. Particularly as I had to sit through each performance as sound and lighting technician.

Fortunately, the local theatre critic was complimentary if not effusive. At least he wasn’t abusive.

For his 80th birthday I wrote my dear friend a story of his own. I left it open-ended so he could add to it if he wished. Which he did and we had a minor back and forth but life had changed for both him and me and it never quite took flight as the other did.

In honour of Dennis and in his memory, I give you the original story I wrote just for him.

The Old House

He stood on the other side of the street, trying to suppress his disappointment. It had been more than fifty years, he reminded himself. He had tried to prepare himself. Of course, it will have changed. It will be a different colour. Maybe even have been built onto. In the cloud of his misery, he had to admit he had not been prepared for this.

The house had gone. Completely. Not even the large beech tree in the front yard, at the top of which he had hidden on more than one naughty occasion, remained. The new house was a monstrosity, creeping right to the front boundary, edge to edge, no room for grass, trees or the freesias that used to pop up every spring, even though no one could remember ever planting them.

He noticed a curtain twitch and looked away, studying the map in his hand as if looking for something. Out of the corner of his eye, he tried to make out a face, but there seemed to be no one there. Perhaps he had imagined it.

Never go back. That had been his brother’s advice. Never go back. It will only hurt you. But he had to go back; had to see the old place just one more time. This would be his last trip back to the old country. He was getting too old for trans-continental travel.

Scanning the windows for movement, he crossed the street. Standing in front of the house, he peered down the side, hoping against hope that perhaps the old magnolia tree was still there. It had been his mother’s favourite tree. He had hated it as a child, having to pick up the dead flowers as they dropped in their multitude all through the late spring. Of course, it had been nothing but trouble. Temperamental as an old maiden aunt, it had driven his mother to distraction. His father had threatened to pull it out one year, but Mother had insisted it would improve. As if to snub his father, the next season it was at its most glorious. The following year, it refused to flower at all, but Mother had made her point.

As he was craning his neck to see down to the back fence, the front door opened. A woman emerged and stared at him curiously. Embarrassed, he stepped away, for a moment considering the option of walking away quickly as if he had not been staring pertinently into another person’s backyard. This is ridiculous, he thought.

“I used to live here,” he said. “Well, in the house that used to be here.”

The woman, small and dark-haired, nodded and smiled. “Would you like to come in?” she asked.

He stared at her, uncertain if she meant it. Then he ducked his head and nodded. “If it’s not too much trouble,” he mumbled.

She led the way through the door and into the front passage. The house seemed even bigger inside. It was all gleaming white marble and pristine ivory walls. Nothing like the dark and cramped childhood home he remembered. He caught a glimpse of large plate windows at the back of the house, open to the view, and tried to spot anything recognisable, but there almost seemed to be no backyard at all.

“My name is Annie. My husband is in the study. He’d be very interested to meet you,” the woman said as she ushered him down a shining corridor. Coming to a large white door, she knocked and entered.

“Peter, this is… I’m sorry, what was your name?”

“Martin.” He followed her into the study. Seated at a large oak desk was a man who seemed twice the size of his tiny wife. He rose and reached out a massive hand.

“He used to live here,” Annie said as the two men shook hands.

“Ah. Well, then, I’m very pleased to meet you, Martin. I have quite an interest in the old house.”

Martin pushed aside the thought Then why did you pull it down?, just nodded politely and sat in the chair Peter was indicating. Annie slipped out of the room, hardly noticed.

“Can I get you a drink?” asked Peter.

“Just soda water, please.”

As Peter walked over to a sideboard and poured two drinks, Martin took the time to glance around the room. It was only then he noticed the pictures on the wall. They were all of the old house. Not quite as he remembered it; it was in a pretty poor state and someone at some point had painted it orange. But there was the old beech tree and, he gasped, the magnolia in full flower, even amongst the ruin of weeds and long grass of the backyard.

Peter handed him his drink and looked up at the photos. “It was in a bad way when we bought it. Irredeemable, according to our builder. We had no option but to demolish.” He said this last line softly, his eyes on Martin.

Martin nodded and swallowed hard. “Even the magnolia?” he asked.

“It had to be moved. I guess it had spent too long in the one place; it didn’t survive.”

The two men sat quietly for a moment. Then Peter said brightly, “But as you can see, we took as many photos as possible of the house. We figured its history was linked to the new house in some way.”

“How long have you lived here?” Martin asked, trying to match Peter’s bright tone.

“About 15 years.”

“Do you have a family?”

“Two boys, both away at college now. Yourself?”

Martin shook his head. “I was married, once. It didn’t work out. Always just found it easier to be on my own after that.”

After a moment of uncomfortable silence, Peter drained his glass and stood up. “Would you like to see around the house?” he asked.

Martin nodded, rose and followed him out of the study.

As Peter took him through the house, Martin found himself trying to superimpose the locations of each room of the old house. Here, was the good sitting room where nobody ever sat, except when Great Aunt Gemma came to visit. He remembered it as a place of stuffy discomfort, forced to sit for hours in his best clothes – always too tight – but never allowed to speak. When Great Aunt Gemma finally died, the sitting room was never used again.

There, would have been the bedroom he shared with his three brothers. Crammed into a room barely bigger than the pantry in this new house, the boys had fought and played. Martin remembered, as the youngest, he always seemed to get the worst of it. He hardly saw his two oldest brothers now, one living in South Africa, the other in the United States. The siblings had been flung all over the globe. He and his next oldest brother, Jerry, were the closest, both based in Melbourne, Australia. His sister Prudence was in Brazil, while the baby of the family, Millicent, was a truck driver in the West Australian mines.

He remembered the boys had always been jealous of the girls. The two of them shared a room bigger than their own, an unforgivable injustice. Their parents had excused the inequity by pointing out the boys’ room was the furthest from the front of the house and thus from the attention of the neighbours. Enough aware of their raucous behaviour, the boys had no answer to this logic.

As Peter ushered him from room to room, Martin had the disquieting feeling that it was his home, but not. The view out the windows was much the same. Some trees were taller, some had gone altogether. Some of the old houses remained, some, like his own, had disappeared from the landscape to live only in the memories of old men.

They were standing at the back of the house, in front of the enormous windows, when Peter asked “Sorry, Martin, did you say what your surname was?”

“No, no I didn’t. It’s Randler.”

Peter nodded and returned to his contemplation of the view. Suddenly he turned to Martin and said, “You’re not related to Henry Randler, are you? He was a teacher.”

“He was my father. Why? Did you know him?”

Peter laughed. “He was my father’s history teacher. The old man talked about him all the time. Apparently he used to do these crazy stunts. Once, they dressed up as knights and held a tournament in the gymnasium. Another time he had them building a pyramid on the oval using hay bales he got some farmer to ship in. Dad was always keen on history and credited your father with giving him that passion.”

He looked at Martin and shook his head. “Imagine if Dad were still here and I could tell him I had Henry Randler’s son in my house. That I lived where Henry Randler lived. He’d be tickled pink.” He smiled. “Dad said your father used to go digging out in the farmlands somewhere. He’d come into class with his latest find. Arrowheads, potshards, that sort of thing. Although, Dad did say he once came in with gold. It was a misshapen lump but your father claimed it was probably a crown. Never told anyone where he got it, of course.”

“I remember that,” said Martin. “He used to get into a fearful row with my mother because he’d clean them in the kitchen sink and she was forever scrubbing mud and muck out of it. We always wanted to go out with him, but he’d never take us. Top secret, he said.”

The two men laughed. Then, Martin, a memory churning in the back of his mind, asked “Is the old brick kiln still here? The one in the back corner of the yard?” Even as he said it he was scanning the garden below, but could not see the distinctive red brick walls of the kiln and his heart sank, even before Peter replied.

“The walls were pretty unstable. We had to knock it down.” He glanced at Martin. “We still have the bricks, though. Down the side of the house.”

Martin looked up at him and grinned. “Feel like going brick-hunting?” he said.

Peter looked at him quizzically, shrugged and said “Why not? How much stranger can today get?”

Peter took Martin out a side door and down the far side of the house. The bricks were stacked neatly along the fence line, their reddish hue just as Martin remembered them. He scanned along the bricks.

“What are we looking for, then?” asked Peter.

“There should be one with a sort of purple stripe through the middle of it,” replied Martin.

The two men searched along the pile, but, to Peter at least, the bricks all looked much the same. As they reached the end of the pile, Martin slumped. “I guess it was a bit much to expect it to still be here,” he said.

“I’m pretty sure we put all the bricks here,” said Peter. “It should be here somewhere.”

They moved back along the pile, more slowly this time. Just before they got to the end, Martin felt his shoe scuff something in the grass. He looked down. Half buried in the grass was a brick that had obviously fallen from the pile some time ago. He dug it out and picked it up. Turning it over in his hands, he smiled as he picked out the distinctive purple discolouring along one side of the brick.

With Peter eyeing it expectantly, Martin took his keys from his pocket and used one to scrape along the edge of one side of the brick. Then, using it as a lever, he slowly removed a small panel.

“How did you know about that?” Peter asked breathlessly.

“I watched him once when he’d been out on one of his digging adventures. I saw him hide something in one of the bricks. I managed to find the brick but I couldn’t get the panel open. I forgot about it after a while. I didn’t think it would be anything important anyway.”

Peter stared at him. Martin shrugged. “I was a kid. My father was always doing something odd. We didn’t pay that much attention.”

He stuck his finger into the exposed cavity. Wriggling and twisting, he eventually pulled free a yellowing, torn piece of paper. As Martin carefully unfolded it, they moved their heads closer to peer at the tiny diagram.

Martin looked up at his new friend and grinned. “Well, what do you make of that?”

THE END?

 

 

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Help! I Need Somebody! – Asking For Help Without Guilt

Help

What is it about the human psyche that we are so reluctant to ask for help? Even when it is freely and lovingly offered by another, we often only take up the offer when there seems no alternative.

In a society that lauds the attributes of independence, self-sufficiency and resilience, asking for help can be viewed as a sign of weakness. It’s not. Allowing another to help us takes strength in acknowledging when we cannot do it all on our own. It is acceptance that we are not superhuman which is logical and reasonable, not some sort of failure.

Helping each other – including accepting help for ourselves – is what being in community is all about. Mutual support, give and take.

Even when we do accept help, we can feel indebted to the helper, as if we must repay the assistance in some way as soon as possible. This also is not necessary in a community. Help will be given and help will be received when and as it is needed. Help given in a true community is an act of love, not one half of a user-pays transaction.

For everything there is a season and the helper one day may be the one in need the next. But in a healthy, caring relationship, help is not offered with the thought, “and you better help me when I need it”. It is offered simply because we care about the other person and we know, not expect, that the other person would do the same for us. It is a mutual relationship of support.

So, offer help because you want to, ask for help because you need to, and do so in the knowledge that this is community and we are all in this together.

 

 

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