A little more than 33 years ago I hooked up with an outfit that had, as one of its unwritten mantras, this: Ask for help. It went hand in hand with a couple of other important suggestions, but it was unto itself, both in importance and difficulty. Asking for a handout, a free lunch, that was one thing. That we were good at, let me say, I was good at. Honorary Doctoral degree in chasing after the proverbial free lunch.
But the asking for help as in “please help me to help myself”, well, that was different, and, yes, scary. It was the 10,000 pound phone, it was the arrive late and leave early, it was the delusional “no thanks, I got this”. When in truth, I didn’t have “this” at all.
So it is with genuine thrill that I am able to say here now that over these last 33 plus years I have gotten better, a lot better, at asking for help, genuinely and with humility and with heavy gratitude. Because, you know what? It’s amazing how many times you get help when you ask for it, even when it sometimes comes in disguise.
Which explains why I was attracted to the title of this week’s Ted Talk, and moved and awed and ‘feeling it’, all at once. It’s worth a watch: www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking
And keeping with the theme, here’s a tune from my favorite musical band that raves on the idea of needing that help, presented in a melodious and ultra funky way:
Now, art for the week:
A big, big time story of asking for help is represented with these shoes. Described pretty well in a previous blog on this page – “Running Around”. It should be back up near the top of my blog somewhere.
Here’s another example of asking for help, from another under-the-radar work of art, in this case a movie. It seems like the asking for help thing worked out pretty well here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=udqh_1_vNWA
A few months back I came upon a book titled “Steal Like An Artist”, which intrigued me as an artist and also in a flash from the past with Abbie Hoffman. I borrowed a copy from the library and subsequently bought one on Ebay. The author is a guy named Austin Kleon, and if you’ll take a visit to his web site austinkleon.com you will quickly see that I took his advice and stole my new blog format from his weekly newsletter, which, by the way, is filled with wondrous links to any number of cool things (and to which I strongly recommend you subscribe). I’ve been struggling, a little anyway, with what to write about in my posts, and how best to use this space to save the planet, and I got a little help from Austin.
I first borrowed his book from the library. That’s the Multnomah County Public Library system, in my case, the Woodstock Branch. Public libraries. I cannot imagine my life without them, and I have a track record of profuse borrowing all the way back to the Wareham Public Library up on High Street a few blocks from my house. Beginning in 1959. You fans of science fiction will know the name of Ursula K. Le Guin, author of “The Left Hand of Darkness”, Hugo and Nebula Award winner in 1970. With many, many more books, I mention her here for this wonderful essay on public libraries and their sacred status in our lives and times. Right here: www.brainpickings.org/2015/11/06/ursula-k-le-guin-libraries/
It happens to be International Cat day today. They should make it a holiday. Cats rule.