Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Art of Asking

On Christmas Break, I started a book called The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. It's an incredible book, and I think it should be mandatory for every artist (or every person for that matter) to read. It's about asking for what you want, what you need, and allowing people to help you.
I've never really been good at that. Reaching out and letting people in and asking for what I want and allowing people to help.
In the past little while, I've been trying to be more honest about where I'm at. Quite frequently over at my instagram, but also on this little blog, and with friends. I've been amazed at the people who show up to join my little tribe, to say that yeah, they hear my voice, and it resonates with something inside of them.
I've been more contemplative these first few days of my second semester of college. I wrote on my instagram on my first day back how terrified I was. Because I made a mess of first semester. And when I looked into my hands at the end of the semester, I saw broken pieces.
Fragments of broken dreams and hopes and plans, I realized where I went wrong. And while things like courage and faith and joy rose from the collection in my cupped hands like sea glass emerging from the sand all I saw was the whole lot of sand.
In Amanda's book she says: People always want something from you. Your time, your love, your money. For you to agree with them and their politics and their point of view. And you can't ever give them what they want. But you can give them something else. You can give them empathy. You can give them understanding. And that's a lot, and enough to give
That first night in a new place, scared as I was, with fingers shaking I typed a little message, sent a little picture out into the void of the internet, and waited...
Within moments I had a reply, a single voice acknowledging me. And it felt like someone else out there understood what I felt in here. One by one others joined. More nods of understanding.
Every once in a while someone leaves words, telling me how much they were encouraged by something I shared, or how they can relate.
And all of it feels like connection. In every comment, in every like or message, my tribe is getting bigger.
C.S. Lewis says Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another "What?! You too? I thought I was the only one."
I'm continually amazed by how when you ask, when you speak, when you reach out, people answer. And how in that moment we are knit together in a way words can't explain.
Since returning to PRBI I've been practicing asking for what I need. Sometimes the requests are small, being asked of myself.
Like I want to block off a chunk of time a few days a week to write, or I want to spend just a few minutes curled up under the blankets to just breathe.
Other times the requests are of others.
Can we just sit here and have tea?
I know you're busy but can you come talk to me for 5 minutes? I need to see you and be reminded of the crazy happy goodness that exists in the world, I need to laugh
Can you hold me for a minute?
Some things I haven't yet dared ask, because I still feel undeserving.
It's a work in progress, a continual journey. It's a give and take, the asking and the receiving, like a teeter totter. Sometimes you ask and the answer hurts more than you ever expected.
And sometimes you ask, and things you never expected begin to happen.

“It's hard enough to give fearlessly, and it's even harder to receive fearlessly.
But within that exchange lies the hardest thing of all:
To ask. Without shame.
And to accept the help that people offer.
Not to force them.
Just to let them.”

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