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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Depending on others

by Eilleen
Consumption Rebellion

Hello everyone!

The last month has been particularly busy for me. Work events have meant that I have had to work many more hours than I usually do. In the past, when such times in my life have crept up, I know that I would compensate by buying more convenience foods and buying housework/gardening services. Those times were certainly not simple, green or frugal!

And while I admit, I have bought *some* convenience foods this last month, I have not been as wasteful this time round...only because I am finally starting to do one of the hardest things I ever had to do - I'm finally asking for help.

Independence is highly valued in our world. We admire those who seem to be able to do it all - seemingly without help. But as I strive to simplify my life, I am realising that this "independence" is coming at a cost - literally. Not asking for help means that we shift our dependence from people to corporations and unsustainable practices. Not asking for help means that my money is being used to create the facade of independence and in some ways creates even more pressure for me to work even more to maintain this facade.

I also find it difficult to ask for help, as one feels not only "dependent" but also "obligated". I know this is something that I struggle with constantly. When I wrote about this issue in my personal blog, a reader there gave me a wonderful piece of advice: "Allow people the privelege of helping you." Asking for help does not have to be an obligation but a gift. I know that I often feel flattered and useful when I help others, so it is time to give that gift back!

A couple of weeks ago, I threw a hedge-trimming party. I have a very very big and very long hedge that serves as the fence. Its an awful job keeping it under control. It takes approximately 2 solid days to do it by myself....or $1,200 (AUD) to pay someone to do it. I finally swallowed my pride and asked my friends and neighbours to help me. I asked my friends and workmates if I could borrow their equipment - hedge trimmers, ladders, extension cords etc. Between 6 of us, we managed to trim my hedge in only 1.5 hours. Not only did we get the job done, but we had so much fun chatting and afterwards, eating together.

Another benefit of asking for help is that it does help build and strengthen my community. Where I live, many of my neighbours and friends have very different ideas and views from me. They are not necessarily commited to a simple or green path. However, what we do have in common are shared experiences that comes from living near each other, going to school together or having children who play together. Asking for help to keep my garden neat was a good way for my community to come together for a common purpose and gave us all a good basis to break through our very different views. I have learnt that there is joy to be found in learning how to build a supportive community with people who are very different from me.

As I write this post, I am sipping a cup of tea and looking out towards my garden and my trimmed hedge. And for the first time in my life, I am happy to finally acknowledge: "I am dependent on others".

I hope you have had a wonderful weekend.


claudia said...

That actually sounds like a fun idea. The next time you could maybe add in a pot luck party as well, and maybe you provide the main course. A full event!

Katidids said...

As children we were always taught "you never start a project/task intending to ask for help" The intent was to teach us its ok to make mistakes and try again. At the same time community service was something they also expected... I took me YEARS to to fully nderstand the lesson & ever ask for help. Why do we have such a hard time accepting help but are always so willing to help. Awesome post & lesson!

Joyful said...

That's a wonderful idea. I've lived my life of independence and I know I get a wonderful feeling when I help someone.

I need help now and I'm actually finding it hard to find people who would willingly help me. I think part of it is people get used to you never needing their help. Another part of it is that there are just many people in the world who don't seem to wanna help anyone. Those are the ones I think are the takers. I read long ago that givers attract takers. so I find myself a bit stuck with a lot of takers. I'm happy though that I do have a great brother who now helps me a lot though it wasn't always so. I'm grateful for his help.

Shawna said...

i just wrote a post about this that i have yet to publish. it's so very very true. i think that it can be very hard to accept help when we need it the most. particularly for me, it is very hard accepting it feeling that i currently have very little to offer in return, except my time (which people are reluctant to borrow, since asking for help is such a foreign concept!). a catch 22 all around, i suppose...

Sandy L said...

We do this every year now, except it's not hedges but berry picking. Every year when our currants and gooseberries are ripe, we invite about 6 people over to pick. It takes about 2 hours and people can take what they want in berries and/or get jam from me afterwards.

I have actually had the opposite experience of Joyful. The more I help others, the more people I have that are willing to return the favor. The people I know who expect others to give but give nothing of themselves are the ones that are most lonely.

Sense of Home said...

We all like to think we are independent, but really all of us depend on one another and life is more enjoyable when we share with others and they share with us.

Chookie said...

Eilleen, thank you so much for writing on this important issue. I love your point about our dependence shifting from people to corporations, and about the facade of independence. Bravo!

Eilleen said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

Joyful - I'm sorry you are finding it difficult to get help now. Though I am glad that your brother is there for you.

Thank you all again!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Excellent post, and I love the hedge trimming story....What a community builder.