Sunday, November 04, 2007

A need money can't buy.

The prompt this week from Sunday Scribblings is "money." It is the second prompt in a row which jumpstarted a variety of stories nestled in my memory bank and which kickstarted a multitude of thought processes that I have only had time to give a little attention to as far as capturing them in my own words. In fact, I wasn't able to finish the story I wanted to from last week when the prompt was hospital, but I have captured it's essence and one day soon, I will post it. It's about a boy who still dwells in my thoughts and heart.

This week's prompt obviously fits with the work I do with people who find themselves living on social assistance. Money, and lack of it is obviously a constant theme. Because I am not at liberty to open up the coffers of the government bank account and dish out some cash, I often feel hand tied when trying to help an individual. However, there is something I can provide that costs nothing financially. And in return, I am offered gifts which also doesn't have anything to do with money.

This is what I decided to write about tonight. And over the next couple of weeks, I plan to post a few stories of the people who have played a role lately in offering me the gifts of my reason for being. I would like to include a half dozen of their stories tonight, but the post would end up becoming a novel. What I do know is that their stories will never leave me..................their stories are a part of me I want to expressly share.
Maybe it's what I'm needed for.

I need you.

Three simple words that pack a punch. You hear it in the cry of a newborn. You feel it when you tiptoe into your sleeping child's room late at night and take in the air of innocence. You see it in the pleaful eyes of your dog. You hear it in the words, I love you.

It's the underlying message behind a recognized job well done, or in a comment like......."we couldn't have done it without you." It hides behind a thank you, a bless you, an "I'm so glad to see you."

When you are given a task because someone knows you're good at it.
When you are hugged by a thankful friend after helping them move.
When you receive an email which reads......."you don't know how much it means to me....."

You are needed.

We may not even be cognizant of striving for those moments of validation. We may think that our actions are performed because we just want to, or we feel obligated, or because it's the right thing to do. But you know what? We do them because we have a desire to feel like we are needed.

What happens if no one needs us? What if we NEVER feel needed, or that all of our needs are met by others due to the circumstances we find ourselves in our lives, and there is never a chance to reciprocate? Why are those words so powerful? Why do we long to hear them?

Because deep down, we all have a need to be needed. Perhaps hearing these words and feeling validated is what makes life worth living. Perhaps knowing we are needed by others keeps our hope alive, especially when the whole world around us seems so dauntingly depressing. If I know I'm needed, I want to get up in the morning again and again.............I want to partake in the life of my community.

I have a REASON to be.

In his book, "Man is Not Alone," Abraham Heschel elaborates on this idea. He proposes that there are many things in life that human beings need in order to survive. And yet, planet earth would carry on because it doesnt need us.

"Who is in need of man? Nature? Do the mountains stand in need of our poems? Would the stars fade away if astronomy ceased to exist? The earth can get along without the aid of the human species. Nature is replete with the opportunity to satisfy all our needs except one -- the need of being needed."

WE need to be needed. It's what gives our life meaning.

It doesn't matter if you are the poorest person or the richest person in the whole world. It doesn't matter if you are healthy and independent or living in chronic pain dependent on others for your care every single day of your life. It doesn't matter if you live in a palace surrounded by luxury, servants and someone who draws your bath, cooks your meals and chooses your wardrobe, or if you live on the street with no home to go to. It doesn't matter if you are you or I am me. WE all live to fulfill our desire to be needed.

It is how we can leave our footprints behind.
No amount of money can buy it. No amount of money can replace the feeling. It's a priceless gift to give and to receive, and the most important act we can take a role in.

I need you. Do you need me?
Do we need one another?
As powerful as those other three important words.................I love you. Perhaps they mean the same thing?


Crafty Green Poet said...

excellent post, we certainly all need to be needed and its not just about money. You're so right

lisrobbe said...

What a powerful post. Needing to be needed is something that I am truly just learning about through my daughter. I spend most of my life shutting people out. I had a childhood where I felt very suffocated. Great way you tied this in with the money prompt. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

gautami tripathy said...

Being needed is the best thing that can happen. It comes on top every time.

paris parfait said...

Brilliant post, Dana! Yes, we all need to be needed. xo

Anonymous Boxer said...

I think they do mean the same thing, but I hadn't thought about that before. Something once told me the words "help me" are equally important. "I need you" is almost the same?

The Alchemist said...

Interesting post, coincidently I was listening to Rediscovering life on YOUTUBE....type in Anthony De Mello if your interested.
"We have the desire to feel like we are needed", that is so true and when we tell someone we love them 99.9% of the time we expect to have that person to tell us they love us and if they don't we are unhappy. That is attachment (desire ) and as de Mello says "The root of sorrow is attachment. I love you but I don't need to be loved by you in return. The fact that you don't love me at this time has nothing to do with how I feel about you. Nothing to do with my happiness. That is non-attachment that is not needing to be needed.
Great post!

Awareness said...

crafty green....thank you. It's too bad it can't be bottled and given out to everyone.'s such a different feeling to be needed by your own child isn't it? I remember vividly the first time my daughter was brought to me in the hospital after she was born the middle of the night to be nursed. I was so frightened that I wouldn't be able to nurse her, that I would be incapable of caring for her.....all of those doubts flooded me. But, then she was brought to me bathed and wrapped in cocooning blanket with her beautiful lips puckered looking for nurturing. My heart fears left me.....what replaced it was a feeling of being needed more than I had ever felt was right then in that split second moment that I knew it would be alright. We'd figure it out.

Gautami and Tara.....I'm glad you agree. thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment. Its always appreciated. of the things I love about writing is that more oftne than not, it is a way to learn and to make connections with previous learning. I hadn't thought about it either until I started writing about it.....
It came to me when I stopped to think about the meaning behind "I need you".....
help me ......... I see it as the same meaning too.

Alchemist.....interesting that you were just listening to de Mello. I named my blog after one of his books.
When I first read the quote about the root of sorrow and his take on attachment, I ruminated over it for a long time. I believe that there is a healthy attachment and an unhealthy attachment. We do need others, but we have to be very careful how much we use people as crutches. Sometimes that fine line which crosses into a dependence that takes the air out of a relationship is not seen.......and it takes someone else to point it out....enabling an alcoholic partner is a good example of an unhealthy relationship.
However, I believe joy can also be the root of attachment too if it provides the much needed sense of love and belonging.
yes, we expect an "I love you" in return more oftne than not.....and I totally agree with you....this shouldn't be the case. And this happens more readily if we are lacking confidence and not receiving the message that we are needed. If we feel like we aren't needed, than our actions and our behaviours reflect it.

thank you for sharing......will go check out youtube.

Open Grove Claudia said...

Great thoughtful post.

I like being needed, but not needed too much. When I'm needed too much, I can easily give up myself for the other person which never works out well.

So it's a balance.

I say I don't want to ever be needed again. It's a lie.

Rainbow dreams said...

our interdependence is part of being human, a gift, and curiously I think is our strength...when we are alone and say we don't need anyone and that we don't need to be needed we are actually more vulnerable - I wonder if somehow admitting to our weaknesses makes us stronger... but then I'm not sure I'm talking sense tonight!

Awareness said...

Hi Claudia......I am like you. If I'm feeling the pressure of being needed TOO much than I feel claustrophobic or something. I think that's what Anthony de Mello was really describing (from Alchemist's comment.....) that too much need leads to too much attachment. Balance is key......a healthy friendship can only be healthy if there is a give and take balance to it, don't you think??'re making sense to me, but then again I'm just a left handed person in my right mind. What do I know? I don't think one can know how to be brave or know how to find out what our strength is if we havent experienced moments of weakness.
Interdependence is a good word isn't it? I see interdependence as an attachment with fresh breezes and flexibility, and adaptability tied into it. If not, then it is a dependence fraught with enabling and no room for fresh air breezes. It becomes stagnant.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

It amazing how such few words can have such a powerful impact upon us. Yet so many are afraid of their power.

Beautiful post...I hope it brings great meaning to your life.

Perplexio said...

I don't think they're the same... songwriter Jim Steinman, separated them in Meat Loaf's hit song Two Out of Three Ain't Bad:

"I want you
I need you
But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you
Now don't be sad
'cause two out of three ain't bad"

But maybe they had it wrong-- can you really "need" someone you don't love? Is need more a factor of appreciation than of affection? Honestly I'm not sure where one would draw the line that would delineate those two things. Good post! It certainly has got me thinking.

Awareness said...'s wonderful to see your name and comments! It was one of those realization moments for sure. My thinking on this started when i heard about a person who had taken his life last Friday by jumping from a bridge near the town I live in. I was left trying to understand how deep the wounds of despair must be for someone to take their life. I wondered who he was.....what were his circumstances? Then, I read the chapter on existance in Heschel's book......a link to is in the post. When I got to the part about how we exist in order to fulfill our need to be needed, a light bulb came on........
and then I wondered......if someone had let this young man know he was needed, would he still be alive today?

Since posting this, I have had a few conversations with people I have been counselling......bringing up the idea that we do many things, make many choices in our lives to try to fulfill our goal of being needed......getting pregnant very young.....looking for unconditional love in all the wrong places for example. Interestingly, they completely understood......and I could see the light bulb go on for them too.

Darrin.........Meatloaf was whining and moaning about satisfying his hunger for sex. He just wanted a roll in the hay with no strings attached. Different need, don't you think?
I could be wrong. Perhaps Mr. Meatloaf had no sexual needs burning in his loins. Perhaps need and love are different things.
Yes, lots to think about.......... heehee!

Perplexio said...

Paradise By the Dashboard Light is about sex pure and simple... But I've always felt Two Out of Three Ain't Bad ran a little deeper with lyrics like:

But you've been cold to me so long, I'm crying icicles instead of tears

The basic gist of the song is a guy who was hurt so badly by a previous love who didn't love him that he can't love the one he's singing to. He wants and needs her, but he can't love her because he's too "damaged."

Steinman's lyrics all tend to focus on emotional extremes. In addition to writing most of Meat Loaf's material, he also wrote Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart, Air Supply's Making Love Out of Nothing At All, and Celine Dion's It's All Coming Back to Me Now. Perhaps his most emotional song, Left in the Dark has been covered by the likes of both Meat Loaf and Barbra Streisand.

Awareness said...

Perplex.....thank you for this. perhaps you're right. It makes me wonder how we help the people who are too damaged to share love and to be loved unconditionally? Don't you find that people who are so damaged from rejection or a broken heart or for whatever reason tend to look for love in all the wrong places?.....hmmmm another song.........desires and urges that stem from feeling such heart pain often leads to choices that may not lead the way to happiness and contentment. it's like a vicious circle.