Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ask and Accept

Here's an idea: ask for something. Don't expect that it will happen, don't despair that it won't, just ask. Even if it feels like you're asking too much or that it's not cool to ask for things (especially for help). Just ask and see what happens.

My friend went out of town a few days ago and was going to hire a pet sitter. Get this, it was going to cost $200. No way! He asked if I would do it. I said, sure. He offered to pay, but things can't work that way between friends. Instead, I bring my daughters to play with and feed the cats while I scoop the litter. (I asked if they wanted to switch tasks, but they said no. Still, I asked.) It's a win-win-win-win. He gets cat care and keeps $200. I get to do him a favor and my kids get to play with cats. Joy all around, all because he asked.

My wife and I have things that we want and need but often enough don't ask for. Then we end up being upset that we're not getting them. Some things are complicated, personal, and so on, but others are things like emptying the dishwasher, doing the grocery shopping, scooping the cat litter, and calling someone to have parts of our house fixed. When we aren't talking, when we forget to ask, these things go undone or are done by one of us in anger. When we ask one another for what we need, almost always we get what we need and want.

And it's long past time I asked someone to look after the girls so I can take my wife out on a date.

I'm not someone who can negotiate his salary (I'm a teacher) but I've heard tell that people are rewarded when they take the time and work up the courage to ask. I've been able to get all sorts of books for my classroom by asking if there is money available. I've been able to have flexibility with time off on short notice because I ask and say yes when I'm asked to work early or late.

Throughout my life I've learned not to ask for help. Do it yourself. Be self-reliant. Keep it to yourself. Those have been the rules even though they are mostly nonsense. Not only can I ask for help and get it, but asking is a gift in itself.

In a week or two I have to ask for help with something. I'm in the process of putting together a book of my poetry. I'm revising about one hundred pieces and will run off five or ten copies. Then it's time to ask people to read and help me pick thirty to fifty that stand out. Those are the ones I'll submit as a book to a publisher.

I'm hesitant because it seems an imposition. I want to ask but apologize at the same time. I'll have to get over that. I need to ask in a way that people can say yes or no, give them a clear task, and let them do it. I'll let you know how it goes when I get to doing it.

As for now, I'm just going to start the habit of asking for one thing each day. It might be simple like seeing if someone wants to go for a run. I might ask my wife for a hug and a kiss. I might ask advice from a poet about publishing. I'll ask and see what happens. Then I'll ask for something else. And I hope others will ask more of me. Ask and write on.