Just take them.
A few weeks ago, a friend commissioned me to make her a necklace featuring a quote from Amanda Palmer. (Amanda Fucking Palmer, as she often calls herself.)
I’ve been a fan of Amanda since I saw her and her amazing Sharpie eyebrows give a TED Talk. I’m currently listening to her audiobook The Art of Asking. It is much more a memoir than a how to guide, but it brings up a lot of interesting questions. First and foremost, why are we so afraid to ask for help? Why would we, artists in particular, rather watch our dreams die than ask for help in achieving them?
There are just so many things (lies!) we’ve been conditioned to believe about the “right” way to do things. And it is true – if you break many of these “rules,” you’ll probably be criticized. Amanda has. But then, who hasn’t been criticized? Wouldn’t it be better to be criticized for actually doing something – anything – rather than just sitting on the sidelines while the “real” artists succeed?
Many of the lies we believe are based on fairy tales. The American Hero. The Genius Artist. Exhalted and highly edited archtypes that leave out one key point:
The reality is, no one succeeds (or fails for that matter) all by themselves. That’s a delusion. And as much as it pains us to believe it, we all need help. Financial, emotional, logistical, HELP.
Thoreau – the great American writer who is so admired for his writings on self-reliance – wrote his book Walden during his 2 year, 2 month and 2 day long retreat into the woods…made possible by the generosity of a friend, who owned the property and had him over for dinner, and his mother and sister, who brought him donuts.
Couldn’t we all produce some pretty decent writing or art if all we had to do was hang out, watch nature, and eat the goodies delivered by our family? Oh, and mommy takes our dirty laundry back to her house and brings it back clean with the next basket of pastries.
Rather than taking the easy route of labeling Thoreau a hypocrite, it is more interesting to think about how he succeeded where so many of us stumble: at accepting love. As Amanda writes,
“Maybe it comes back to that same old issue: we just can’t see what we do as important enough to merit the help, the love.”
It is time for the myth of the self-made man to die. Take the donuts, or a hug, or a free ride if that’s what you need. Being a good person doesn’t mean you can’t ever accept help. It just means you should offer help when you are able, too. Keep the flow going.
Last night, I had the opportunity to take the donuts – in the form of japa mala beads. I attended a kirtan in Costa Mesa put on by the lovely Spirit Soul and Friends group. A chance to sing – just what I had been looking for. Then they handed out japa malas, and part of me tensed up. I didn’t have any cash with me. I would have liked to have given them a donation in exchange for the beads. But – it was a gift, not a transaction. There wasn’t a price tag attached. I couldn’t see the benefit in rejecting what was so kindly offered.
So I just smiled, said thank you – and took the beads. Which are a much healthier form of donuts, anyway.
Read the article that inspired the pendant on Brain Pickings.
Read the source, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer.
The rose quartz version of the “Just take the fucking donuts” necklace is available in my Etsy shop.