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Another Day in the Country

© Another Day in the Country

I’ve decided that asking for help is the most difficult thing for me to do. Having always prided myself in independence, initiative, and foresight, seldom have I found myself in need of asking for help.

Sure there are things I can’t do like fixing the car (or even fixing a flat, for that matter), repairing the lawnmower or building something; but those are the kinds of things that one naturally seeks out an expert and asks for help. You give them money. They give you their expertise.

The kind of help that I’ve been most recently contemplating is help for ordinary things that I’ve always done for myself. We’ve all heard the asides about how difficult it is for us to program the VCR or add music to our iPod — all those things that we didn’t grow up doing. To compound matters, things don’t come with instructions anymore, unless it is in 10 foreign languages. The font that it is printed in must be point 2. How does one read this? Even a magnifying glass that jitters and jumps is no help.

And have you noticed how many things are black sleek looking machines with little black knobs and tiny, obscure, lettering (not even in white but just engraved or embossed on the surface). Who can read this? HELP!

Some of the new mechanics, I’ve mastered. I use a computer all the time. I have BlueRay. I even make my own movies and record DVDs. But the other night, I tried something new. There was a video available for rent on my network and when I attempted the transaction the picture came through in all its glory but there was no sound. Luckily, my daughter was here and she’s capable of techno-work so I fished out the 800 number and she did the talking and the manipulating to attempt to get the sound for this delightful movie. We rebooted, reconfigurated, rearranged, redid almost everything electronic in the house — all to no avail. Even my daughter gave up after an hour and a half of being on the phone with a technician in Who Knows Where. “Sorry, I can’t go through this all again,” she said, when it still didn’t work, “I have a little boy to put to bed. Can you just give us a refund?” And then began another list of instructions and code numbers and 1-800s to call. HELP!

My cousin came to visit a few weeks ago and he said, “Is there anything I can help you with, Pat?” Ten years ago, he probably wouldn’t have asked. But things have changed. I’m in that age span that may need help. Even five years ago, I probably would have said, “Thanks, but I can’t think of a thing,” and smiled and sent him on his way. But this year, I considered that offer gratefully.

“Yes, there ARE a couple of things I could use your help with,” I said. Seems silly to even talk about because the task was replacing two light bulbs. Who can’t replace a light bulb? Well, I was having trouble: 1. With the awkwardness of the placement and 2. With how the ceiling fixture came apart and then went back together. HELP! I patted myself on the back for being humble enough to admit I needed help.

And then I look at the years ahead. This isn’t going to get any easier. There could be a lot of things that, in the future, I may need help doing — in fact, there most assuredly will be changes. It’s good practice to ask for help. It’s good, prize-winning neighbors who help each other. It’s salt-of-the-earth family who are there, helping each other; but my family seems so far away at times — even though my sister lives across the street. “Her plate is full,” I say to myself, “I hate to ask…” And then I remember how I love being able to help someone! Why would I be too shy or too proud to ask for the same? HELP, I even need help asking for help.

While I contemplate admitting, asking, waiting, my practical, independent mind is looking to the years ahead. “Keep things simple,” I say to myself. “Live fully today,” I remind myself like a mantra. “Be grateful!” and my heart rejoices for another day in the country.

Last modified Sept. 1, 2011

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