Ep 019: The only type of help you should offer to others

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One of my favorite albums (and yes I listened to it on vinyl) was the children’s album “Free To Be You And Me”. One of the songs was penned by poet and storyteller Shel Silverstein. It is called “Helping”.

The final verse goes:

And some kind of help is the kind of help That helping’s all about And some kind of help is the kind of help We all can do without

It speaks clearly to the idea that sometimes help is wonderful and sometimes other people’s help actually gets in the way. I often refer to the latter variety as “kind-hearted incompetence”.

In the mid-2010s there was an absolutely beautiful (and sadly short-run) television show called “Going Deep with David Rees”. In each episode David tackled the best way to solve one simple problem, like how to make ice, swat a fly, tie a shoe, shake hands, or open a door.

Each episode was dedicated to only one of these topics.

David is a beautiful mix of curiosity, kindness, and obsessiveness. Because of this, each episode turned into a reflection on what it means to be human and to be kind. (So much so I bought the first season on DVD just to show my sister the episode on how to pet a dog.)

In the episode on how to wash dishes there is a long segment dedicated to how to load a dishwasher. In case you weren’t aware (and I somehow doubt that), people have strong opinions on the best way to load a dishwasher and they are willing to let you know how they do it and why it is the best.

In the middle of this conversation David made the most beautiful statement about helping. The statement provides guidance on how to offer “the kind of help that helping is all about” and not “the kind of help that we can do without”.

Understanding this concept will not only make you a better helper to the people in your life, but it will also teach you the best ways to ask for help so you can avoid kind-hearted incompetence barging into your life.

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