I’m always suspicious when I hear people say, “I earned everything I got. No one ever gave me anything.” They’re probably saying that right after someone stopped to let them into traffic or they’re snapping up a maple bar from a box of doughnuts someone brought into work. I am happy to say that lots of people have helped me get to where I am today. I would be leading a terribly lonely life if I couldn’t look back and remember all the help I’ve received from family, friends, and strangers.
Knowing that I’ve been helped by others keeps me humble and appreciative. It also reminds me that I’m not alone. This morning one of my best friends asked me if I thought he was compassionate enough when he saw his male friends struggling with something. He was worried that he was too jokey when he saw one of us breaking down a little.
When I was growing up, no man would ever ask that. Most men wouldn’t even have cared. Suck it up and walk it off was all I ever heard growing up. I was touched that Mark was worried he wasn’t being helpful enough when one of his buddies needed someone to talk to. I was happy to tell him that he was just fine. He’s one of two men I trust to open up to when I’m in a riptide of emotions and getting pulled out to sea.
There is no way any of us would be here without a lot of help. Every time someone at FGS asks if they can help me set up chairs or move the furniture I feel blessed by the universe. Whenever I hear that there’s less money for community service programs I feel gratitude for all the food stamps, rental assistance, and WIC coupons I was given when my son was small and we were broke.
When I was 10, my mother took me back to St. Paul Island, Alaska, where I was born. My parents had just split up for the umpteenth time and for some reason Mom wanted me to see the rock in the middle of the Bering Sea where I came into the world. At a time when I was feeling about as lonely and dadless as a little boy could feel, she took me to one of the loneliest places on earth. I’m sure she had a good reason for doing it but my 10-year-old self couldn’t fathom it. While we were there, one of her male friends took me down to the rocky shore to go fishing.
I remember him showing me how to bait a hook and cast it out into the sea. It was the first time anyone had ever taken me fishing. I caught my first fish that day, a 21-1/2 inch dolly varden. The man had me sling it over my back so I could carry it back to the village. I was so short, the fish was half as long as I was. Until I started writing this, I was always sad that my dad wasn’t the one who helped me catch my first fish. Looking back now, I’m grateful that it was someone I had never met before who did that for me. My dad was a good man. He did lots of great things for me. But parents can’t be there for everything. Sometimes we have to rely on the rest of the world to help us. That guy on St Paul, whose name I can’t remember, reminds me that people show up all the time to help each other. He also reminds me that sometimes it’s my job to be the one who shows up.
Not all help comes with a story but some of them do and that’s what we’re looking for this month. Come tell a story about a time when you were failing, flailing, or just beat down, and someone or something helped you. It could be a person, an organization, an idea, or anything else that helped you pull it back together.
Remember to keep it clean, and practice out loud as often as you can. All stories must be under 8 minutes. It can be as short as you want but not over 8 minutes. We’re getting more names in Mr. Coffee and some folks aren’t getting to share their story because we run out of time. Thanks for understanding.
Here are the rules and guidelines for telling:
I hope to see you all Sept 19th at 7 pm at the Olive Way Starbucks :)
Feel free to email me if you have any questions