‘And it’s from the old I travel to the new – keep me travelling along with you’.
That’s a line from a bouncy hymn, and it’s one I like for the pictures in my mind. Travelling from the old towards the new sounds like a plan, a daily one. I will be travelling, literally, tomorrow, to find my new car, a mini, my own car, my own choice. As I know very little about cars beyond the obvious requirements necessary to drive one, my son is coming with me. He, like most boys, does know cars. Where I could be dazzled by the colour or the shine or the alloy wheels, his head will be under the bonnet. Where I fall short, he will stand tall, asking the right questions about emissions and mileage. I could fall for sleek black or wild red and not discover a thing about emissions or mileage. It doesn’t mean I am a fool in such matters, but by travelling along with him, we can cover all areas effectively, bringing this thing to a satisfactory conclusion. The right colour, the right price and the emissions and the mileage at a satisfactory level. Many times in my life I have been quite certain that I could and should do everything on my own. If I ask for help, I show weakness. I was so sure of that. Eventually, however, I did learn that in not asking for help, I was depriving someone else of the chance to be valued. We all like to be valued and if a person asks for help, we feel chosen, honoured. I had forgotten that in my drive to be singularly successful, and it proved to be a lonely old place, even if I did feel a tidal wave of smugness wash over me on completion of a difficult task. Sometimes it is wonderful to overcome a challenge all alone, such as assembling a wooden flat pack garden planter without help, a task I completed yesterday. I had to guess what went where, however, as there were no instructions in English. Polish, Russian, Japanese, Eastern European, yes, but not a word in a language I could understand. It looks marvellous now, even if I have screwed it together upside down so that the ‘easy-lifting’ handles are at the bottom.
Prior to employing a weekly cleaner, I wrangled with the sense of failure in me. I have time, after all. I can work the hoover and the duster and the eco window cloth. So why am I asking someone else to clear up my mess? Am I being lazy? On sharing my angst with another son, he wisely pointed out that, by employing said cleaner, I am valuing her. I am helping to put food on her table. Both of us win. I have a super clean house and she has money in the bank. I also have someone to cut my grass. Yes, I could do that too, even if I hate doing it, but I choose not to. I choose to value his work and he makes a very good job of it, and the hidden benefits of sharing a work load lie in human interaction. Alone, I would grump my hoover down the stairs and curse the dust that gathers in 6 short days, but when Thursday comes I get to laugh and chat with a woman of whom I have become very fond. On grass cutting days I can discover what goes on in the gardener’s life and what he thinks about any topic arising. Those encounters stay with me and influence my mood. They lift me, and maybe I lift them too. I felt the same on agreeing to help with dementia care. Those girls work hard, and their work is tough and demanding, physically and emotionally. I can do all the things they do for me, all by myself, but, in being all by myself, I am lonely and sometimes overwhelmed. Although they might have to walk here beneath inclement skies, or have to drive miles over switchback roads, I now see clearly that we all win. I don’t have to do what they come here to do and, when they do come, they bring in the light.
So travelling along together is, I have decided, the way to go. Not always, for I love and protect my solitude, as I value completing a challenge alone. But…… there are times I think we miss out on the hidden benefits of sharing a problem by letting someone else in. The concerns we feel about this or that, once shared, can find their own way home. Alone we can worry an issue into a tangled web. I’ve done it a million times in my life and all I end up with is exhaustion and sleeplessness. Worry is a fool’s friend, after all.
I have created monsters through worry and not one of them ever became the truth, once I reached out for help by letting someone else in. Travelling together is what we are meant to do, be it for a new car or for help in difficult circumstances. It amazeballs me that we can resist it so much, thinking we have to do everything ourselves.
Today I recommend reaching out to a fellow traveller. The unseen benefits can change a life.