Saturday, March 9, 2013

With a Little Help From Our Friends

Many of us don't like to actually need other people as much as we like being needed. No one says it out loud, but we keep count in our heads, a sad little tally list of how many times we've helped someone compared to how much he or she has helped us. We don't want that tally to slip heavy on our end, being indebted to someone or owing anyone anything. We like feeling in control of it all and keeping just the right balance in our friendships so that we're really never quite vulnerable with those around us.

The Beatles, however, recognized that that is a foolish way to live. In their famous song, they pose question after question about what someone might do in lonely or hard situations. And time after time, the answer to the question is to "get by with a little help from my friends." Perhaps even more famously for our generation, we remember the Joe Cocker version which was the theme song for The Wonder Years and anytime we hear that song we think of our younger friendships and first loves, of our own Pauls and Winnie Coopers.  Either way, the understanding is that the friends are just there, they are supposed to be a part of it, it only makes sense to call on them all the time. No tally marks, no keeping count, just honesty, laughter, hard work and life together.

Just this past week, we were in some serious need of help from our friends. Ever since we got the phone call about our move to Wisconsin, we've been doing all those fun little house projects to get ready for going on the market. They have been virtually never-ending. And as we looked at our timeline, we realized there was absolutely no way we could do it without help. We looked at our schedules, we thought long and hard of any way to do it without inconveniencing those around us, but the bold truth was that we could not do it alone.

So, as much as that little voice in me that wants to be able to handle everything on my own was screaming inside, I sent an email. An email asking for some help from our friends around here. Help mulching, painting, staining, cleaning, entertaining our name it, it was probably on the list. And the funny thing was, once I sent the email, I didn't feel funny or skittish about it anymore. It just felt good. It was remarkably freeing to ask for help.

And the response? Well, these pictures can probably speak for themselves but on a cold and windy weekend, countless numbers of our friends and their children gave up time and energy to make this happen. They smiled, they laughed, they joked with us, they brought us food, they stayed for countless slices of pizza, they bolstered our resolve to finish these projects. We are overwhelmed by their generosity and friendship, not to mention their stellar power-washing and shoveling abilities.

Whether or not our house sells quickly, the generosity of our friends this past week has reminded us acutely of one thing: it will not be easy to leave this place. We have truly gotten by with a little help from our friends, friends to whom we will not easily say goodbye, friends who have shown me more deeply that there is nothing to do with tally marks and keeping score in true friendships. You help when you can and you ask when you need it. Bottom line. Anything else is playing games. And life is just too short to waste time on the wrong kinds of games.

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