Asking for Help
George Town, Great Exumas, Bahamas
June 29, 2016
Hearing a light rain dousing my deck overhead, I awoke this morning at 4:34 am. My Mystique began rocking with a sudden gust. Somehow the soft sound of this short shower turned on my consciousness. Like the rush of a sudden gust hurrying through a slightly-opened hatch, an epiphany startled me into a stark reality.
Dare I confirm the image finally dawned on me; it suddenly all made perfect sense. Part of my shock was the 67 years it took to wake up to this simple observation. I had been asleep all that time. And the answer was all summed up in one word - HELP.
So much in my life was related to that word. Like any human, I have needed help and like many offered it unconditionally. I had gradually realized that anything worthwhile in life was about service - helping others. Any of my career lessons were connected to my experiences and with assisting others. I started to reflect on my life about what had helped me learn about HELP.
When I was nine and old enough to drive a tractor, my father practically "roped me into" cutting our lawn. Mowing and trimming any lawn sounds like a typical oldest son chore, but cutting 9-10 acres and spending 3-4 afternoons each week felt more like a job than some chore. At the time I was given an allowance of $2.00 per week, but I received no payment for cutting his grass. Maybe I was earning my keep...my room and board!
Years later, I realized my many days grass cutting helped me appreciate some valuable lessons. I learned commitment, dedication and responsibility to a complete a task. I knew I was helping my father with property maintenance and contributing to duties of land ownership. While I learned how to maintain a tractor and a mower, I contributed to the family property by keeping it looking neat and tidy. While I eventually took pride in my mowing, I developed a work ethic that helped me into transition easier into my educational careers. Here's a random list of other helps in my life and in others:
- My father couldn't help me with my homework.
- I became a teacher partly because my father would and could not help me in 3rd grade.
- At age 10 I couldn't help save a drowning boy in our family pool.
- I played sports in high school and college to help teammates.
- I became a teacher to help students.
- I once dreamt of riding a white horse trying to help a village only to be shot in the back by an arrow I shot at myself.
- I once had sex with someone I barely knew to help myself.
- I lost eyesight in my right eye while trying to help students.
- I got married to help a woman.
- I thought male-female relationships were about helping each other.
- I lost money attempting to help a woman and myself.
- My two adult rejected my help.
- I started a tutoring business to help students.
- I became a sailing instructor to help others less skilled.
- I thought men always helped women as best they could.
- I helped many students get enrolled into college.
- I sailed solo last year to recover myself.
- Some people don't want or need help.
- Some dont know how to help, even though they may offer.
- I wanted to help everyone
Each of the HELPs listed above has way too many consequences and impact to describe.
My "home work" experience has also lead me to understand that most people like to help. I once discovered help doesn't mean someone is helpless. The act of assisting another connects each other in ways other life experiences fall short. Giving time, energy and expertise to others makes one feel vital. And often giving assistance helps people give.
During my recent sailing experiences, I asked for help whenever and whatever I figured I could not accomplish were impossible without another set of hands. What really surprised me was people often offered to help before I had a chance to ask. My body language and intentions must have been asking for me...putting out vibrations or signals that I was indeed in need. Maybe I was too slow on the uptake to recognize I needed help. Whenever the help arrived, I was often surprised how it appeared just at the right moment. Now I am no longer surprised as I am no longer hesitant to ask..
Asking for assistance is a very powerful request. But a few incidents occurred where I offered to help without being asked. I just noticed help was needed and I stepped in and offered. And a few where friends and some complete strangers offered their assistance. Some can be asked and they expect payment. Some offer their expertise, insights or skills without compensation. These people give freely and receive payment other ways.
In 2017 these people gave to me...their expertise, time, effort and energy
- Miquel and Gus - helped me take Mystique up the Miami River and in many ways rescued my boat.
- Clint -an old friend who helped repair one of my Yanmar engines
- Stephen - a new friend Who helped me with an idea about how to connect with my granddaughters.
- Brad and Martin - fixed starboard engine
- Bernard and Roland - two Austrians Who helped me recover and acre.
- Leslie and Houston - two Canadians, mother and son, who came aboard to help me get on unanchored and move into a marina
- French catamaran skipper - jumped aboard Mystique and helped me extricate my catamaran from a Nassau marina
- John Morris - a Nassauian mechanic met me at a gas station and looked at a few of my windlass parts and told me that I should wait till I get back to United States.
- Gus and Isabel - their generosity and good nature were
- Some who offered help, while good intentioned, their efforts were not always helpful except to understand what not to do.
- Ray - dock hand offered numerous suggestions how I might leave his dock.
- Jason - electrician - offered lots of unsolicited advice
Almost every cell in my brain thought I could help others. But I realized I had been the one who needed help. I wanted others to help me. But then I realized they helped me in the best way they knew how. Many times I didn't realize their help because I didn't recognize their helping hand. But each student no matter who helped me by being themselves, not by being someone I wanted them to be. I learned more about my ego, my energy and my acceptance by interacting with people where they were in relation to where I was.
Who do you ask you are all alone? It can be challenging to ask oneself to find patience, answers and energy to accomplish a task. I have found when I ask, I receive.