Back in my school days, I found it entertaining that we were taught humans reign supreme at the top of the food chain. Even as an adolescent, I knew that was a bunch of nonsense.
Not because I had a deep scientific background or that I’d read extensively from the accumulated knowledge stored in the school’s library. Nope, I knew it was wrong because I’d spent a lot of time in the woods. Sometimes for days on end with nothing more than a pocket knife, a length of rope, and a sheet of polyethylene plastic.
I was, without a doubt, an unusual kid.
I liked being in the woods. It was peaceful most of the time. When it wasn’t peaceful, it was exciting. Maybe a little too exciting now and then.
But to an adolescent with a large dose of Tom Sawyer in him, I preferred being in the woods to being almost anyplace else. As an added advantage, there were no adults around. That did it for me.
Thanks to that time out and about on my own, I knew first-hand that humans weren’t at the top of the food chain. Left with nothing but our natural gifts, we’re not much of a match for a hungry raccoon, let alone a bear or big cat.
If you doubt me, go ahead and have a friend set a fish on the ground in between you and a raccoon that hasn’t eaten for a day or more. Release the raccoon and see if you’re willing to fight that furry little bugger for the fish.
If you’re hungry enough, you might go for it. But you’d have to be really hungry — and at least a little reckless.
Humans are not at the top of the food chain. We never were. Rather, humans developed technologies that allow our puny, soft, nearly defenseless species to put ourselves at the top of the list with confidence.
While you and I would come away with the short end of the stick should we tussle with any of our friends from the forest, we will win nearly every time if equipped with the tools and technologies provided to us by better, smarter, more capable people who came before us.
More than 200 years ago Merriweather Lewis and William Clark were able to find their way from the East coast to the West without so much as a Rand McNally roadmap. Today, you and I would more than likely use GPS, and we’d still be a little unsure of where we were at least once along the way.
Technology is a wonderful thing, but personal knowledge is a critical resource to develop. Humans learn by trial and error. We’re wrong more than we’re right. That’s how discoveries are often made. Thanks to errors.
Each and every one of us has to face the reality that we can learn from our own mistakes or we can learn from the mistakes of others. Either way, true learning will most frequently come to us through miscalculations, gaffes, and outright failures.
That’s just the way it works. It always has and — until somebody figures out how to implant fault-free chips in our brains — I expect it will continue to.
We need help. All of us. Which means that our most critical skill as humans may be the capability to ask for help and actually get it. The subject matter is immaterial. The challenge becomes how to learn what we need to know without going through the trial and error process ourselves.
That’s big stuff, y’all. Believe it. Which brings us to the crux of the story: How does the average Jane or Joe ask for help and get it?
That’s a good question. One that isn’t asked or taught nearly enough.
As was true when I was a boy putting my pimply woodsman awareness to the test against that of a teacher who dutifully but ignorantly read from a book, I’ve got a fair amount of experience with folks asking for help in such inept ways, they never get it.
It’s time we discussed the topic and corrected the problem.
A good example is the recent message passed to me from someone who said they wanted to talk about issues they were sure I could help with. The note encouraged me to contact the interested party at my convenience.
I haven’t. And unfortunately, I won’t. Because the individual who wanted advice didn’t think to include in their message a phone number, or an e-mail address, or a name. Nothing. They sent along a request to contact them, but provided no contact information.
That’s not a rare situation. The extremity of it is a bit unusual, with no contact information at all, but it’s not uncommon to receive requests for information or guidance from people who provide nothing more than a name. I can only assume they believe they’re easy to find. They are not. None of us are.
To get the help we need quickly and accurately we need to make it easy for the person we’re asking for help to reach out and get in touch with us. It doesn’t matter if we’re asking for a copy of Grandma Queenie’s secret hush puppy recipe, or for a list of things one should bring along for an initial flight instructor’s practical test. Tossing in a means of contacting you that will be convenient to the person you’re asking help from can make all the difference.
It’s the little things that make all the difference. That’s my email link just below. Write me if you wish, but be sure to let me know how to get in touch with you too. Because if you do, I will.
See how well that works?