Articles

Everyone Needs a Helping Hand

I still remember standing with my head tilted up toward the school’s ancient ceiling in Venice gazing at this painting while our guide continued to lecture on other works.

What I remember most about that rainy spring morning was that I was chilled to the bone in this unheated, very damp building, but as soon as I spotted this painting it spoke to me (and my physical discomfort ceased to matter.)

If works of art could speak, I am positive I would have heard the words, “Pay attention here.”

After our college art history professor/tour guide started explaining the specifics of this painting…I knew I wanted to find a print to take home with me. While no one seemed to take enough interest in this particular work of Tiepolo to make wall sized prints, I did manage to locate a postcard size rendering, which I laminated and now use as a bookmark.

Every time I pull this beloved scene out of the pages of a book, I stop and study this artist’s rendition of a universal truth.

Everyone needs a helping hand.

Everyone.

This painting depicts a muscular angelic being coming to the rescue of a similarly muscular scaffold working man who’s lost his footing and the implication is sure death (if not for this divine rescue.)

While I don’t envision myself falling off high places and requiring this sort of help, I do know enough to take the help of my friends when they see me slipping.

Everyone can agree that certain environments can make us sick. Some are more hazardous than others (like this painting illustrates.) But how often do we stop to consider how our social environment affects us?

Hardly ever, if at all.

This is where good friends step in and care enough to offer a different kind of rescue. They love us enough to ask the hard questions, offer some alternate solutions, and then stand with us while we try to summon up the courage to make some changes (and aren’t relationships just the hardest changes to make?)

As author Larry Julian writes, “Our environment provides the trigger that sparks the best (and the worst) in us.”

Social environments are no exception.

We want to trigger the best in others (and have them do the same in us.)

Another truth — We become most like those with whom we associate with most.

So taking a good look at what (who) sets us off (in the right direction/wrong) is something worth taking note of (and then changing.)

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