I had an interesting dream last night.
I was in a beautiful bookstore with Merlin (as played by Gandalf the Gray, as played by Sir Ian McKellen) and we were browsing all the lovely tomes to read. He flipped through an old, leather-bound textbook, when suddenly he became very still.
“I shall have to shut this,” he said, “And then read it backwards.” Intrigued, I asked him why, and he showed me that this was no ordinary text. Flipping to one of the pages, he revealed that most of the figures had no captions, only blank spaces, and before my very eyes words began to appear on the page in those spaces. They were hand-written, in blue ink, and the line read thusly: Go to the bookstore. There you will find an old man in a robe with a long beard, reading this book. When you find him, use W. Now, I found something very sinister about these instructions, written apparently by someone that knew Merlin would be holding this book, to an unknown entity that had some strange “W” contraption. No, I was not at all pleased by that, and very unsettled.
“How can I protect you?” I asked Merlin, nervously adjusting the sword at my side. The old wizard looked at me, his expression somber, if fond.
“Do not fear for me,” he replied quietly, and I felt foolish for my saber-rattling.
“Very well,” I amended, “How can I support you?” At this, his face crinkled into a deep smile, and a twinkle appeared in his eyes.
“Now that,” he said, with a sprightly step, “Is another matter all together. A hot cup of tea on a cold day. A good meal with good company. Sweet smelling candles and a good book.”
It reminded me of a wonderful interaction I had with a family at ComicFest, a smaller convention I attended in April. They had stopped to look at our buttons, and we began chatting. When the mother learned that Cory and I were locals, starting our own business to help support our creative projects, she said, “That is wonderful! How can I support you?”
It was such a simple question, but I found it incredibly touching. I’ve had so many people try to tell me what THEY would do, or what I should change, or what their opinion is on how to run my business (always without soliciting this advice) but nobody had ever just asked “How do I support you?” Such an open, generous question, with no assumptions or ego to it. I told her that the best way was to buy a book, which she immediately did.
So often we ask “How do I solve this problem for you?” Whether that’s to rally behind some perceived injustice, or rush in and fix something, or to give gifts and opinions when none have been asked for. I know I’ve been guilty of it more than a few times. I want very much to anticipate problems and solve them for someone else. Except, often the whole point is that they need to solve something for themselves, and my help is neither helpful nor desired. And, as Merlin pointed out, I want to help because I FEAR for them. And somehow suppose that I am more capable than them of solving their problem. Yet, isn’t it better to TRUST in others, and give support on terms that suit us both?
Good old Merlin. Always has something to get me thinking.
What kinds of support is the most helpful for you?