I believe, when it comes down to it, the three most difficult words in the English language are not, as one might believe, “I love you,” but instead, “I need help.” Too often, we conflate those with “I have failed” or “I was wrong,” two statements we try to avoid at all costs. While needing help may indicate those other two statements, they are not necessarily the equivalent.
One of the basic milestones of entering adulthood is one’s ability to take constructive ownership of one’s own errors, to admit a mistake in judgment, learn from the mistake and strive to do better. Often, this is far easer said than done. Especially when moving into a new community. You want to fit in, to be a part of things and not a drain on resources. You don’t want to be the cause of the dreaded “eye-roll,” the “Oh, here she is again…” sentiment when someone sees you coming. So you do things on your own.
Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes, not so much.
In my case, recently, my mistake was a pretty good one. We have our new home in Home, a property on a hillside with a relatively solid downward slope toward the water of Van Geldern Cove. There’s another house between us and the water ––a fact that has made me feel better from time to time, but especially a few weeks back.
As a part of my reacquaintance with my Pacific Northwest (and Piscean) roots, I was eager to purchase a small runabout to take out for afternoon runs on the water, especially on those days when I wanted something other than my arms to power my watercraft. I searched, researched, talked to people and found what I wanted. And, on a very rainy afternoon, brought home my new (to me) toy.
I had a plan. I’d ease down our drive, slip into the large backyard through the gate I’d especially designed to accommodate such things and park the boat in the yard so as not to clutter up our driveway.
At this point, I should remind you that our yard is, in fact, a downhill slope. As water follows the general laws of gravity, in that downward corner is not only where our gate is, but also the water —hidden by the grass I had not yet mowed. I am betting you know what happened next. In my attempts to “straighten her out,” I promptly got not only my 4Runner stuck, but also my new boat. And stuck good. My further efforts to get me unstuck resulted in…more stuck.
What to do? Calling AAA seemed silly. Nobody I knew owned a truck large enough to pull me out. I was facing three or more days of rain. I had a frustrated partner and two very stuck, very large vehicles. I needed help.
There are at least two Facebook communities for the Key Peninsula. I’m a member of the “moderated” (family-friendly) one and, up to this point, had been merely a lurker. It was time, however, to jump in. I did so, with a very simple post: “Well. I did a stupid thing and need a bit of help…” I offered to pay for time and gas if anyone was able to help out. I was hoping for a referral to a reputable tow company or some guidance. Instead, within just a few minutes, I had five offers of help, from the volunteer battalion chief of the KPFD on down to friendly folks with big trucks. Even people who didn’t have trucks referred me to people who did! Mere hours after my initial plea, I was able to post grateful thanks to Anthony for pulling both truck and boat out of the mud and up onto stable land (and by extension, me out of the dog house). The man would take nothing in payment, barely even a can of Coke.
That is community. We’re not perfect, we’re not flawless, but we’re community. The Irish call it comhar (pronounced “core”). It literally means “in partnership” or “in community.” You cannot have community without being a community. Without being willing to pitch in when you can and, perhaps even more importantly, reach out when you must. It comes down to being willing to say, without fear of repercussion or judgment, those three little words that can mean, and bring, so much. Do not be afraid to say, “I need help.”
Polly Robinson teaches communication studies at TCC. She lives in Home.
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