Ships that pass in the night, and speak each in passing, only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness; so on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It is easy to be a ship that sails alone on the ocean of of life.
Well, to be honest, I happen to think it is the most difficult way to go about life. So I will rephrase and say it is painfully easy to slip into the pattern of sailing alone.
Even when we don’t want to. Even when we’ve made it a point to try and look around and be there for others, reach out a helping hand and be aware of the other ships sailing out in the ocean besides us.
It’s still hard. We are conditioned from very early in life to “Stand up for ourselves.” “Be Tough.” “Be Independent.” “Never ask for help or show signs of weakness.”
We all know that “When the going gets tough…the tough_________Get going.”
That’s right. You knew the answer. No way did your mind start to fill in that blank with start hollering for help!
We aren’t conditioned to ask for help, and we don’t know how to feel about it when it’s presented to us. Many of us don’t know how to keep our eyes out for those who might need it, and if and when we do stumble on to someone who does look like they could benefit from a helping hand, we hesitate, not knowing if we should get involved for fear of insulting them or making them feel bad. We don’t ask for help, and we are afraid to offer it unless we are asked.
Vicious circle, isn’t it?
The Tragedy of the Lone Ranger
Somewhere along the line we’ve been sold a bill of goods. Somewhere we picked up some erroneous belief that if we “handle life on our own” quietly and without complaint that we will have have achieved some zen-like courageous level of success on par with the Lone Ranger and Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry Character.
I’d like to go on record as saying I think both of those men’s lives weren’t worth the dust on their shoes.
They were both lonely empty men who didn’t know how to share their lives with anyone. They harbored hero complexes and carried the weight of the world on their shoulders without being able to depend on anyone to be there for them. Ever. They kept all of their emotions locked up tight inside, sharing nothing with nobody,and in the end-they rode off into the dusty sunset-ALONE.
This isn’t Zen. This isn’t heroic. This is afraid.
They were afraid to reach out, afraid to be less then perfect, afraid to be needy, afraid to be needed, afraid to intrude, afraid to be hurt, afraid to hurt, afraid to look foolish.
Living in fear stops us from living. It certainly stops us from living inspired. And it stops us from making a difference.
Have you ever said these words or some version?
“It’s okay, I’ll be fine, don’t bother, I don’t want you to go to any trouble…”
Chances are you did need them to go through some trouble, you needed help, you could have used a friend, and they probably stepped out in love to offer. But you closed the door on love in an opportunity to share an experience and chose silence, loneliness and the Lone Ranger experience. Why? Why do we ALL do that?
Because we don’t want to be a bother. We don’t want to be perceived as weak, unknowledgeable, stupid, lazy, taking advantage and the list goes on. We choose fear.
I challenge us to be more daring then that. We all have the exact same fears. None of us are exempt. So if we can realize that we are all dealing with the same fear, maybe we can step over it together.
I challenge you to take a chance.
Break your silence and ask for help.
I dare you. Don’t let that ship pass you by.