I have always loved the idea that we have inside ourselves everything that we need to survive and thrive. Like Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz, "You've always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself." Yet recently I've taken to heart that one of the most important tools we have is the ability to connect with and support and rely on other people, as Dorothy did.
A few times this year when I was feeling a bit lost, overwhelmed, and powerless, I recalled a parable shared by one of my favorite teachers and storytellers, Michael Koran. Here it is to the best of my recollection:
A religious man went hiking one day. He slipped off the trail and was dangling over a cliff, barely hanging on. He sent a prayer for God to save him.
Above him on the trail a few hikers passed by and called out: "We will throw you a rope!" And the man responded, "No thank you, God will save me!"
Another few minutes passed when a boat pulled up beneath him. "Let go and we'll catch you!" called the captain. "No thank you, God will save me!" responded the man.
A little while later, a helicopter came fluttering by. The park ranger threw down a ladder and yelled for him to grab it. "God will save me!" the man yelled. Then his hands gave out and he tumbled to his death.
In the afterlife he stood face to face with God. "My God," said the anguished man. "I have served you my whole life, why did you forsake me?"
"My son," said God (switching to a Rodney Dangerfield voice). "I sent you two hikers, a boat captain, and a park ranger! What more did you want from me?"
If you feel like you're just barely hanging on, take another look around -- you might be overlooking offers of support, insight, or guidance that are showing up in an unexpected form, possibly an unremarkable human one. While it's tempting to imagine we can just muddle through on our own, more and more I believe Phoebe Waller-Bridge: "People are all we've got."
Many thanks to all of you for lending me an ear, a hand, or a shoulder, for reaching out in connection and community, and for helping me heal and become a better healer. We may never know for certain what role we're playing in one another's lives, but I like how the dearly departed Ram Dass saw it: "We're all just walking each other home." Here's to all this and more in 2020!