“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
Martin Luther King, Jr. posed a great question – a question that we often look outward for the answer. We want to do for others in a poverty-stricken neighborhood, a disaster-stricken state or in an entirely different country that’s still developing. But what about the people close to us? The friends right around you? The family in your own house even? What about the people that are always there when you need them?
I had to do a family history project a few weeks ago for a class. I asked my mom some questions for the assignment, and a lot of things came up. She’s been through a lot (and has been through most of it on her own) and I felt overwhelmed – partly because of what all she’s had to overcome – but mainly because I felt that for a long time, she’s been there and then some for everybody else, but in the grand scheme of it all, she hasn’t had her own shoulder to lean on.
I have 2 sisters and between the 3 of us, you can imagine the ups and downs we’ve had, and the brunt of it all has been on our mother. It takes a special kind of woman to even fathom dealing with the stuff we’ve brought our mother’s way over the years. And on top of that, my mom is a therapist and a substance abuse counselor, so she helps people fix their lives both on and off the clock.
When I ask my mom about dealing with the bumps in the road she’s encountered in life, she said “I dealt with it, you know, I got over all of that stuff on my own eventually.” But it shouldn’t have to be that way. If the people we love can be there for us, we can surely be there for them.
I see it all like this. As we grow older, we learn that the amount of people that we can really trust and that truly care for us tends to get smaller and smaller. And once we’ve figured that out, we hold on to the people that are truly on our team really tight. And we lean on them. We lean on them so much, we may forget about their well-being. They may have stumbled and fallen themselves. But for many of them, virtually no one is there to catch them.
It may be your parents, a best friend, your long time mentor or your wise older cousin – whoever the people are you lean on, make a conscious effort to think about them. Be there for them. Let them know that they’re loved. Just because they are our relatives, our friends and our familiars doesn’t mean they don’t need looking after. And just because they support us through our rough patches doesn’t mean they’re immune to rough patches of their own.
Next time you call up your best friend to complain about your dead end job, next time you ask your sibling to get you out of one of your numerous stints with the law and next time you whine about the partner your momma been tellin’ you was no good, think about that “urgent” question Martin Luther King Jr. asked of us all.
The shoulders we lean on are just as good as we treat them.
Peace, Love & Consciousness