August 16, 2007

Nobody Needs Me!

Some of y'all were concerned because I haven't posted or sent out my newsletter for nearly a month. No worries...I was on the road, staffing The School for The Work in beautiful Bad Neuenahr, Germany...playing and sightseeing a little in Cologne and Amsterdam... catching up with friends and family in New York...and you are all spared because at the moment, I'm unable to share my 108,000 photos of canals and cathedrals with you (I somehow messed up my computer's USB ports during my travels).

I take it you have enjoyed a fine life these few weeks without me.

While at the School, I had an ongoing opportunity to work on my issues about not being needed. This is something I have experienced on and off for many years, most notably after the events of 9-11-01 when I witnessed peoples' devastation at losing family members who supported them. At the time—parentless, spouseless, childless, and jobless—I had survivor guilt. Why did people who were needed have to lose their lives? No one needed me, yet I was allowed to live. It seemed like a waste for someone like me to be on the planet. Was God a sadist, or what?

During this school, I felt underutilized as a staff member as I watched others with "more important" jobs rarely having a chance to sit down. Instead of kicking back and enjoying this opportunity to "do" my school again, I spent a good part of the ten days feeling that I ought to have been given a fuller schedule of tasks in order to better support the participants and core staff. This meant that in my mind, whatever I was doing there (and of course, it wasn't nothing) was worthless. That's such a good one! And, ironically, though I let it be known that I was more than available to do whatever I was asked, I was unavailable to myself when I wasn't asked.

I am not yet sure why I think I need to be needed and useful. Why can't it be enough that my mere presence at the school was a comfort to some? If I'm doing nothing but standing, sitting, or lying horizontal, why isn't it enough that my exhalations help plants to grow? I'll continue to work with my thoughts, and I'll let you know what I discover.

While I was gone, my basil plant, which apparently didn't miss me, nor did it need my carbon dioxide, remained alive and well on the terrace, in spite of not being watered in three weeks. It even has a sprig of flowers on top, and several dozen healthy new leaves (I had denuded it for pesto right before I left).

See...I can't even neglect a plant properly! :-)

I guess—she says while digging in her heels—that this not being needed is a good thing. I would rather come home to a thriving plant than not. I'd hate to feel that I'm responsible for everyone and everything on the planet. I remember when I did feel that way, always trying to keep employers, family, clients, lovers, readers, and everyone else, happy and approving of me. What an impossible way to live.

Oh yes...just noticing that I don't need to live this way anymore, I am breathing more freely. There is great freedom in having no responsibility, and that doesn't mean I am lazy or useless. I am free to take care of whatever is in front of me, to not worry about whatever it is that I believe is more important than this, now.

It could be that I don't need myself either. I'm sure the basil plant doesn't fret about such things as a "you" or a "me," as it sways slightly in the breeze looking quite lush and luscious, having asked for nothing, and done nothing to deserve what it has.

I suppose if I had to go halfway around the world and back to discover this, it was worth it. And, as I like to remember, and as Katie says when people have big, life-changing epiphanies, "It's a beginning."

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.


Anonymous said...

Hi Carol,

I'm just noticing how similar being needed and being kneaded are - yikes!

Hurray to not being needed/kneaded :-)

With love,


Marianne said...

Hi Carol,

I'm glad you learned this by having fun traveling halfway around the world! When do we get to see photos?