Amanda Palmer wrote a beautiful and fantastic book about vulnerability and opening yourself to help and support. In the book, she talks about Henry David Thoreau, the author of Walden Pond.
When I read Walden Pond, I imagined Thoreau living by himself, off sweat of his own brow. Sure he interacted with the occasional neighbor or passer-by, but he did his Walden Pond experiment on his own.
Amanda Palmer presents a different story in her book. Thoreau was “roughing it” on land loaned to him by a rich neighbor. Ralph Waldo Emerson would often invite him over for dinner. And, every Sunday, his mother and sister would bring him donuts.
Not exactly the most isolated of situations.
But does Thoreau’s acceptance of Emerson’s dinner invitations, or his mother’s and sister’s donuts, make his book any less important and real?
After reading Amanda Palmer’s book, I don’t think so.
You see, there are a lot of people in our lives who offer us donuts of support. They want to be there for us. They want to support us!
But sometimes (often?) we turn those donuts down, because we think we’ll look weak if we accept help.
And by not accepting the offered donuts, we’ve shut someone out of our life, if only for a little bit.
Well, today someone offered me donuts. Some hella big donuts, with custard inside and chocolate and sprinkles on top.
My mom and I talked about spending Christmas in Europe after I finish my Ph.D. Today she shot me a Facebook message asking me about my holiday dates. I called her back to explain that I didn’t think that I would have my money stuff together in time to go this December. But maybe we could do a smaller trip: Puerto Rico!
Switching to my new job has been a blessing, but it’s come with a lot of financial hurdles. It’s challenging…
She surprised me by saying not to worry. As a birthday/graduation present she wanted to pay for my airfare and lodging on this trip.
This grand gesture was supposed to be a surprise for my birthday, which is later this month.
My first impulse was to say no to her offer.
- I don’t deserve such a big gift.
- I’m independent! If I can’t pay my own way, there’s something wrong with me.
- I already owe her money!
Yet here is a person who wants to share something with me. She wants to support me and celebrate my successes with me.
How can I say no to that?
So I didn’t. I did the only thing I could do: I said “thank you.” And “I love you.”
I took the donuts.