Monday, June 6, 2011

About a Man and a Kite

I was tying my shoes before heading out for a power walk this morning, when Kelly started getting all excited, thinking this meant a walk for her. I adore my pooch, but walking Kelly is not an aerobic activity. She likes to sniff and pee and and dawdle, and me dragging her along to keep a brisk pace is not fulfilling for either of us.

"Oh no," I groaned aloud, "Kelly's going crazy for a walk, but I need to exercise."

"I'll walk her," offered my 14 year-old daughter.

"You will?"

"Sure," Emma shrugged. No big deal.

What an amazing development. I practically skipped out the door.

As I headed to the park, I thought about how often I get offers for help - from friends or relatives or complete strangers - and turn them down. I'm reluctant to ask for help too; like needing assistance makes me stupid or incompetent. I hate the idea of being a burden. Also, I'm a little shy.

I certainly don't judge people that way when they ask me for a favor or advice. I feel good that I can help out and flattered to be asked. And, like my daughter offering to walk the dog, most of the time it's no big deal.

In a month when I'm examining my habits, this is one I'd like to change. I can ask for help when I need it! I don't need to know everything. It's perfectly okay!

Lovelace Park, Evanston IL
I had a chance to test my new resolution almost immediately. Lovelace Park has a lovely half-mile track that circles around a pond, a soccer field and a playground. On my first lap around the path I passed an older man serenely flying a kite.

I gave the guy a little smile as I marched by - kites are fun! Then it dawned on me how extraordinary it was that a grown man was at the park flying a kite all by himself. This is something I couldn't imagine doing myself. I spent my second lap wondering about the guy. Why was he flying this kite? Was it for the benefit of some kid I hadn't noticed? Was he mentally impaired? Was this his regular pastime or had he  decided to give it a try for the hell of it?

On the third lap, it came to me. If I wanted to know about this man and his kite, I could simply stop and ask him about it. I could ASK. So I did.

"It's so cool that you're flying a kite!" I said brightly, because I've found that people are more receptive if you give them a sincere compliment first.

"Well, thank you," he said, clearly pleased that I'd noticed.

"I just have to ask, why are you doing it?"

"Oh, it was something I tried as a kid and could never do, and a year or so ago I thought that maybe I could give it another try," he said. "A lot of people don't know how to fly kites."

"They don't?" I asked.

"Nope. See, a kite can drop 100 feet in altitude just like that. You've got to know what to do to get it back up."

This gentleman (who was perfectly normal, by the way) then demonstrated the proper technique for getting a kite into climbing mode. His kite was admirably high. I asked him if he did this often.

 "I come out here a fair bit,"  he said, modestly.

We both were quiet, watching the kite soar in the breeze while he gently tugged on its long string. "It gets kind of Zenlike after a while."

I could see that. I said good-bye, and as I walked on I felt lighter, uplifted - from both the kite and the conversation. I'm so glad I asked.

Do you have trouble asking for things or accepting help? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one. I ask you to  please comment, below.


Christie said...

Hi Marjie! I am totally loving your June series so far. So much to think about. (Even on that weekend post!)

My habit regarding help is somewhat similar to yours; a fair bit of shyness, a need to feel and exhibit competence, and not wanting to impose, even when someone has offered unsolicited assistance, sometimes keeps me from accepting help. And yet I offer help all the time and mean it sincerely, without judgment.

But as I get older -- 40 is less than a month away -- I'm feeling better about accepting help, especially from friends. It's a healthy part of good relationships, I think, that we can lean on each other every once in a while.

Oh, and I'm definitely one of those people who doesn't know how to fly a kite. My daughters and I tried it out last summer and spent most of our time trying to get it back up in the air. :)

Marjie Killeen said...

Hey Christie - thanks for sticking with me this month! I really appreciate it.

I took my resolution to ask for help one step further today. I'm hosting my daughter's end of season soccer team party on Friday and was feeling the pressure to scramble for our coach gift on top of everything else. So, I sent out an email asking for a volunteer to help. And wouldn't you know, someone offered right away!

Now I feel grateful instead of cranky. Wow, this is going to make life easier....

Christie said...

That's awesome, Marjie! Grateful tops cranky any day of the week. Such a great start for this new habit. Best wishes for a great party!