June 2024 . . . .

“We Get By With a Little Help . . . .”

Sometimes, not always, it is satisfactory to just muddle through. To want more — to ask for it — is both fruitless and unnecessary. What we have is enough. Or there is no more to be had. Or there is more, but not for us, and this is understood and if we’re not happy or comfortable with that, at least we get it.

At least, I find this to be so.

And just muddling through, when it comes right down to it, is fun, in a solipsistic, perverse rather dense way. On your own, a lone wolf in a big world, there is no one else to thank, blame, ask permission of, apologize to, reflect with, and be angry at when you don’t want to look in the mirror. That works sometimes. Not well, of course, but think of all the rewards I just mentioned.

Despite my snarky logic, many is the time when we try to hold the wood still while also wielding the saw. And any success we have with accomplishing a two-person feat alone we attribute to our superior intellect, rather than blind luck. We muddle through and are amazed with how successful we are at the great life game of solitaire. How magnificent! Did you see that we didn’t even cheat once? Did you?

We go muddling on, believing a correlation between any previous apparent self-sufficiency and each situation that comes up as we go forward. I did it before, I can do it again. I work best alone.

But, and of course there is always a “but,” occasionally more is required. And by this, I mean more, even though you can ask for it and not get it, because there is no more to be had – yes there is, but not for you. You have enough — the ubiquitous voice of authority has spoken.

Still, something else, something additional is needed. Not a magical X factor. Just a little something. An extra hand to hold the wood. A bit of knowledge you don’t have time or inclination to acquire. So how to get it?

I’m no expert. Not in anything. Maybe I know a little bit more about . . . say, the history of the fall of Rome than the person sitting next to you, unless that person is Mary Beard, Oxford Don and professor of classics. (If it is, though, tell her that I’m now exploring her recent volume about the emperors. Excellent read, by the way.) But of how much use is something like that? Not even in polite conversations. So I rely on the brilliance of others to help light my way. And by rely, I mean very little in my life works without my friends.

My friends put up with a lot, being my friends. I’m annoying, in all the ways that word can be defined. I ask for favors. I request assistance. I call them on the phone and regale them with arduous diatribes about etymology, or arcane history, or some obscure technical problem I’m experiencing.

And for reasons I am unable to fathom, they help me. They come over and fix the sticky front doorjamb. They get past my problems with instructions and assemble a bookcase. Come over with a pick-up truck to help clear yard waste I’ve stored out in the garage, or weed through too much storage on my hard drive.

Do they laugh at my jokes? No. That would be asking too much. Do they correct my grammar? Thank goodness, yes, because it is often flawed.

What do my friends get in return? Well, it feels like not enough. Like I said, I’m not very good at much. Truth be told, I have little that I can offer in return. I can make a pretty good cup of coffee and there’s a comfortable seat on the front porch. I listen. I smile. I say please and thank you. I’m there.