Lastnight I went to a wedding. It’s the second of three weddings within a month of each other, and it was beautiful.
As with all weddings, it’s always a strange mixture of people – families, friends, work colleagues, ex flatmates (that was my role), and the appropriate partners. I took along one of my best friends, Shaun, and we seated ourselves nearest the food entry – how appropriate. (Shaun and I are both foodies, so we weren’t complaining). We were joined by three women, and the awkward conversation began, though the awkwardness was short-lived.
One of the women has cancer. An ex school principal, she spoke of all her achievements, all her trials and tribulations, her parents, her thoughts on the education system, how ridiculously PC the Western world has become, and her general outlook on what it means to be a teacher. The biggest thing that stood out for me was how much she has sacrificed of herself in order to help and inspire those around her. She is, in Shaun’s words, a “beast” – a warrior in her own right – a fighter for the greater good.
As we continued our conversation, one thing struck a chord with me. Despite the amount of strength this woman possesses, and the amount of aroha (love), compassion and strength she gives others, she’s been finding it overwhelming, and difficult to accept help and support from her friends and family as she sets out to beat her illness. For some reason she feels like she’s undeserving of it. I’m halfway through reading Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking”, and it kinda just matched up perfectly for me – especially as I’m currently homeless and relying quite heavily on the help, support and love of my friends, family, and even strangers (or web-based friends haha). It’s really fucking hard to accept it – BUT PEOPLE WANT TO HELP!! And I need to let them – whether it’s lending me a couch for the night, or taking me out for coffee (or tea, as I don’t need any caffeine in my life hahaha) to discuss philosophy, culture and what the heck it is that I’m doing. People want to be a part of my journey, they want to hold out their hand, and they want me to take it.
You know how sometimes you need life to kind of punch you in the face before you learn something? Last night was one of those moments. People can tell you till they’re blue in the face that they’re there for you, but it’s not until you turn around and tell someone that you’re there for them that your brain suddenly clicks into place, and you realize that friendship is actually a mutual exchange of helping each other out.
So to the woman at the wedding last night; thank you for helping me come to that realization. Thank you for sharing your story with me. And thank you for allowing me to realize that accepting help and support doesn’t make you any less of a “beast” or superhero.
Thank you for sharing your strength with me as I transition into the next chapter of my life.