How We Receive

As I write this, a few things about my body:

My left ankle is annoyed and a little swollen. A tooth living in the bottom right corner of my mouth has a temporary crown on it. So I can’t walk very well and I can’t chew very well.

I’ll bring you soup! a friend says. Another gets a sack of frozen vegetables for my foot and plumps up pillows for me. Everyone asks with concern how the ankle and mouth are, how I am.

People have been so helpful. And it isn’t easy for me to receive that.

My sense of self is as one durable human, like those dolls you punch and they bounce right back up with a smile. I can figure out my health insurance, I don’t need help with my luggage, I can handle stuff. My sense of power emanates from being able to do for myself. And part of me has bought into that old American myth that needing help is akin to frailness, being easily broken.

Which, like many old American myths, is bunk. A fuller definition of power is being able to break and build ourselves back more whole than before. To be powerful is to ask for help and to receive the help that others offer us.

I know this. But knowing and believing don’t always lock arms and walk into the sunset. Those old American myths get driven deep into our psyches. So my irritated ankle and distressed tooth are helping to show me the way.

Accept the soup, I tell myself. Not only that, enjoy it. Allow your friends to care for you as they allow you to care for them.

It’s a change that happens, like many changes, in fits and starts. But if I keep on showing up for it, it will take. And my fuller notion of power will blow the roof off that old American myth.

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