One of the fabulous things about Alaska is there are what seems to be an endless supply of outdoor adventures to be had. Bill and I went to check out a trail we had heard of in Girdwood this week, the Winner Creek Hand Tram.
It was a lovely hike through the forest then we got to the tram. There was a short line of folks waiting their turn, as the tram has a two-person capacity. As we moved closer to the front, we witnessed a wonderful example of community in action. The people waiting their turn helped pull the car along, and held on to the car so others could enter and exit. Which was perfect, because when it was our turn, we learned that it is harder to pull yourself along from inside the car then it is to help from the ends.
As Bill and I disembarked the tram and continued our trek, I was touched by the simple act of people working together to make the journey easier for everyone. It’s something that I think comes instinctually in some circumstances, if someone drops a stack of papers, you stop to help pick them up right? I have witnessed the power of community to step in and help when someone needed it. Think of a barn raising, or meals for someone undergoing medical treatment. When I was a teen, my parents did a lot of driving not just me and my sister, but also several of our friends whose parents were not able to commit to driving that much. If my parents hadn’t stepped up those friends would not have been able to participate in the activities we had so much fun doing.
And so it seemed completely natural that everyone would help each other on the tram. But it always surprises me when I discover that for some people that’s not natural. That’s not to say that we can all do everything, or that we shouldn’t have an eye on our needs, selfless-ness can go too far just as selfishness can. However somewhere in the gray area is community.
It’s a bit of a paradox, when I act in ways that are best for my community, it usually is also beneficial to myself.
But sometimes that’s not enough, sometimes folks don’t want to lift up others or render assistance because they are not seen as deserving of help. I think that this relates to the topic of fear I wrote about last week. Some fear that if they agree that a certain person or group needs/deserves assistance or a boost, somehow that takes away from the assistance available to all. From a limited viewpoint, that makes some sense, if 100 widgets are available, and I allow someone who needs the widgets to have half of them, there’s only half left.
But what people who ask if the glass is half empty or half full fail to realize, is that the glass is refillable. The abundance of life is not a one-time allocation, but more like a mug of coffee at your favorite diner, always being filled before you even get to half-empty.
It comes down to how you choose to see the world, are there limits on resources which one must fight for and hoard, or do we trust in the abundance of the universe that our needs will be met and with joy?
Some people who showed up at that tram were not able to pull their own weight to get across, some were little kids, or experiencing a temporary or permanent physical limitation. But everyone got across, because no one was checking to see who was worthy, we just all put our back into it to the best of our ability.
That’s the lesson from this about how to go about my life, and an invitation to you:
Do what you can, embrace your part in the dance of community, and don’t worry about who is doing how much, everyone will get across.