That's a question I get asked when I go grocery shopping and have more than a couple of items, but not one I was asked very often when I was younger. Maybe it's a new trend -- people trying to help one another. That would be great.
My reponse is always "No, I can manage thank you." But today the shopping was a particularly big one, with a box of bottles -- wine, and sparkling water. So I decided to opt for some assistance.
I don't like to ask for help. I will do almost anything to avoid it, actually. I'm sure it's because I have control issues that run deep due to a nerve-wracking childhood. And I will do endless work-arounds to avoid asking somebody to give me a hand. In the past I have stood on coffee tables to hang drapes, for instance, when I was eight months pregnant. Did not do me or the coffee table any favors. I have been known to wrestle a stone bench and drop the whole thing on my foot. It's crazy.
So asking for help is not something easy, for me. But today I agreed to take a little. A young woman took charge of the cart, and ultimately rearranged the contents of my trunk to make room for the groceries. We chatted a bit, I thanked her and she went on her way collecting more carts as she made her way back to the store. It was a thoroughly pleasant experience, and for once in my life, a prudent one. I needed help. I got it. And I didn't feel apologetic for needing it or feel a need to make excuses for not having done it myself. Big first for me.
Social media is full of people asking "How can I help? What can I do?" these days. We pass around websites and information about who to call, how to write, where to register a complaint, how to demand our rights as citizens. When it gets right down to it, some of us want to be doing more, though. In this moment. I want to take up a knitting project for Syrian refugees -- something I can touch with my hands and see grow, stitch by stitch.
But today I realized that the small practice of asking for help when needed, responding as you can to others who ask, and having a genuine kind conversation counts too. This world has gotten so full of bullies. And, in truth, all of us are guilty of name-calling and mud-slinging, no matter which side of the aisle we sit on. We all want to feel independent, empowered, also. Does that isolate us or connect us, I wonder?
My grandmother used to love an old hymn, "Brighten the Corner Where You Are," and though she couldn't carry a tune, she certainly lived her life by those words. It's trite, I know. But I have to tell you that right now I will take any bright corner for as long as the light lasts. And I will do what I can to create those corners whenever and wherever I can. And yes, I will still make calls and write letters.
But I will also light candles, learn to listen a little better, and accept help when I need it. We do spark off each other. I know it. And in today's world being able to get and give help moves us all just a bit in the right direction.