I have been an avid reader of Patrick Rhone’s writing for more than a decade. This ranged from his famous blog, Minimal Mac, to his published works. I make it a point to re-read Some Thoughts About Writing and This Could Help every year to reinvigorate my spirit. Even now, I follow his personal blog and his site dedicated to analog writing tools called The Cramped. I subsume his wife Bethany Gladhill’s blog too, as she is an equally fantastic writer. I enjoy getting a glimpse at their family’s cozyness, like when they make lefse together for Christmas. Their daughter will become president one day.
Patrick’s recent post titled “To Help and Be Helped” struck me because I too struggle with the same. I get tremendous pleasure out of helping others, yet accepting help is something I do with great reluctance. I often have to remind myself of this Zen Koan from the Blue Cliff Record:
Yunyan asked Daowu, “How does the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion expect to make use of the many hands and eyes?
Wu said, “It is like a person in the middle of the night whose hands feel back for the pillow.”
The Bodhisattva of Great Compassion, also known as Guan Yin, Kannon*, and many other names, is sometimes depicted with a thousand arms and eyes to allow him/her to help as many as possible. Yet, he/she does so in a natural way, without consciously dividing one’s thinking into self and not-self. I wonder if passage can apply to accepting help as well–how can one learn to do so without self-consciousness? In the New Post-COVID-19 World, I sense a collective shift in how we help those around us. I’m also lucky in that I feel others are more ready to give and receive.
If you can’t tell by now, I place Patrick and his family on a pedestal for their ability to keep me writing and contemplating, even when times are hard. I hope this short ode from a stranger on the internet can reflect all the hope and motivation they have given me throughout the years!