Saturday, May 2, 2015

47:120 The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer gave a TED talk a few years ago and after just that short talk on asking and opening yourself up, she was asked to write this book.  Her first thought "My husband is the writer, I'm a musician" but she was convinced and this book was the result.  It's an open and honest look into her life and the lessons she has learned along the way.  It really boils down to one sentence:
"Take the Flower"

The whole book explains this lesson that seems so simple but is so hard for many of us.  It's about accepting kindness, accepting the gift that someone is offering you, being open to receiving the kindness of others, being able to ask when you are in need and receive what you are asking for but being ok when you don't get what you are asking for.  She gives many examples from her life of her asking but also of her giving and of times when she was unable to ask or to give.  She tells of the people and experiences that have helped her learn these lessons and at times when she was unable to hear them until after the moment was gone.

I'll be the first to admit that I only knew of Amanda Palmer because of her connection to Neil Gaiman.  I was lucky enough that a friend had an extra ticket to "An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer" and I was able to go even though I was really just there to see Neil.  I enjoyed Amanda's music when I was there but it wasn't a style that I would generally go out of my way to seek out to listen to (although my kids might and I should probably introduce them to it and see) but I was fascinated with her as a person so I started following her on FB and check in on her on a few other forums when I'm around so when I saw this book, I really wanted to read it.  What she writes resonated with me on such simple but powerful levels.  Asking is something I've always struggled with.  Not simple things like "can I have a cookie" but the bigger things, when I really need help or comfort or support.  Even more than my struggle with asking was my struggle with accepting when people would offer when I didn't ask.  I was supposed to be strong and capable and do everything myself and every time I had to accept help, I was angry with myself for needing it.  Having a premature child when I was 19 and both my husband and I were out of work really gave me hang-ups.  As things have progressed since then (I'm now 40, still married with 4 kids) and we are generally in a good spot in our lives I love helping others even if it's something simple like giving lifts to friends' kids and that's when it really started hitting me.  I enjoy helping others and I know many of my friends and family feel the same way.  Asking for help today is okay because tomorrow I will be helping someone else and we all benefit both from the receiving and the giving.  I still struggle with it but I do firmly believe that we all benefit as a society and community when we learn how to ask and let others help us.

Page count: 339p/10,199p ytd/225,133p lifetime (finally hit the 1/4 way mark on lifetime goal!!!!)

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