After a short pause for an expression of thanksgiving, Dad would raise his head to look at us and say, “Help yourself!” We would survey the table for the serving dish to our right, make a choice of portion, and then pass it to the left. As our hands offered one, we prepared to receive another.
That was in the day when families gathered at home for the evening meal; a meal that was prepared by Mom with loving effort. In fact, the abundance on the table was a portion of the wealth produced that day: Roast beef, potatoes, salad, vegetable du jour, warm bread, cold milk and a cookie for dessert.
We were connected to the land and understood the importance of working, if we wanted to eat that evening!
Advance forward a couple of generations, and we find a society of fast food and slow thoughts. Diminished are the thrill of the hunt and the sport of accomplishment. Instead, we find whiners with an attitude of entitlement. Unless everything magically appears on a silver platter, they are clueless about their survival. Instead of wanting a hand up, they want a hand out.
The real joy in life is discovered when we understand, “Help yourself!”
Of all creatures, humans are the most helpless at birth. Choices are made for us, and care is provided to us, by parents. Before we can talk, though, we are reaching for that spoon to do it ourselves. For the next five years, we fear little and do everything. We delight in our accomplishments and learn the most from our mistakes. We help ourselves.
Then, we start school. We are taught that there is a right way and a wrong way: Our way is wrong and the right way is only known by those with the answer key. Funny thing, though; that key only works for one set of questions.
Life is different!
After twelve, sixteen, or more years, young adults tip from the conveyor belt of modern education into a world with more pop-quizzes and test-questions than they have answers.
One of two things happen: Either, they realize the extent to which they don’t know what they don’t know and begin to “help themselves” learn it. Or, they point fingers of blame and expect someone else to compensate for their lack of resourcefulness.
I admire the first group and, thoroughly, tease the second about their “Stinkin’ Thinkin’!”
All we do begins with a thought. The most important thought of all is: “I think I can.”
At that moment, we tap into the childhood belief that the world is our oyster; just waiting for us to pry into it for the pearl discovery. We don’t want anyone else messing with our project. In time, we might discover that we need a little coaching on technique. If so, we ask for it; or, we struggle through to re-invent the wheel. Either way, the prize will be ours.
As we sit at the banquet table of life, only we can know what is best for ourselves.
The only way to discover That is to “Help Yourself!”