The other day I spent an hour in the car while my son had his guitar lesson. I used the time to write a blog about his upcoming rafting trip, and while I waited I had the keys in the ignition and the windows down. The lesson ended, I finished my writing, my kid got in the car with all his gear and looked at me expectantly, like a puppy does at dinnertime.

I went to start the engine and it was dead. I’d had the keys too far in the ignition, and the running lights had been on the whole time.

We have jumper cables, but I don’t really know how to use them. Another mom and son duo from the guitar class had come out on the street and before I could change my mind I asked if she’d give me a jump. If she doesn’t have time or if she doesn’t want to she can say no, I told myself.

This was all very good for me. Why? Because I really, really, really dislike asking for help, especially with something that’s the result of a mistake. I don’t want to impose, or take up time, or have to problem-solve with the other person. And in this particular situation there was an added layer of embarrassment because I didn’t know how to use the cables. (What kind of grownup doesn’t know how to use jumper cables?! my inner mean girl said.)

Whatever. We got the cars in position and I called a friend who walked us through the process over the phone, calming me down when sparks flew out of the cables and instructing me on how to ground the last clamp to a piece of metal on the engine. It worked, we got my car started, and pretty soon my son and I were on our way home.

I wish it didn’t still surprise me when I ask for help and others respond. Every time I do I remember that there’s a current of generosity that runs under everything. I’ve learned about this generosity on my spiritual path, as well as the other truth that when I ask for help I give someone else the opportunity to tap into that electric energy, too.

For me, part of the difficulty in asking is that I then feel indebted to the person, an attitude based on the erroneous belief that other people don’t need help and if I do it’s because I’m an idiot. But isn’t that’s one of the world’s Big Lies — that everyone is separate, self-sufficient, alone? I love it that my most recent wake-up call was so obvious: there’s just no way to get a dead car battery started by oneself.


About Kate

Things are weird in the wide world -- and like everyone else, most days I'm used to it. But to shake things up for myself, I like to notice and write about stuff that strikes me as both beautiful and strange, fascinating and repulsive, sweet and sour -- like how the steamy, stinky air that comes up from the BART vents at 16th Street Mission reminds me of being twenty-two, apparently immortal, and in love.

2 responses »

  1. jewlee says:

    brilliant. exactly what i needed RIGHT now. i just asked for help myself, tis a hard thing to do. giving up the illusion of control and putting faith in someone else. gulp. I love you my, thank you

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