I have an idyllic fantasy about village life that offers an antidote to the isolation of urban living. In my fantasy, the village people drop by each other's house. The doors are never locked. When people stop by, they help out with whatever is going on at the time - cooking, cleaning, making something, gardening, building, taking care of chidren. The job is easier and more fun because it is shared. While working together, people talk about whatever they want. The ideal of being with other people that is reinforced in this culture involves eating, drinking and not doing anything creative. It involves "being entertained." It involves the host doing all the work ALONE - cooking, cleaning - and inviting the guests into a totally passive, receptive experience. I'm so sick of doing it this way, but for years I have not questioned it, until now. The thing that opened my eyes to another possibility was my partner's illness that caused him to have three major surgeries in the last year. People were volunteering to bring food over and asking if there was anything they could do to help. I kept saying "no, we've got it covered, thank you," until I realized that it would be a gift to others to allow them to give to us and I needed to get over my resistance to receiving from them. Finally, a few months ago, I allowed a friend to come over and help me fold my laundry. I had to get over that voice that kept saying, "How can you be so selfish - you can fold your own damn laundry!" I saw that it is not at all about whether I CAN do it alone. It is about sharing the experience of giving and receiving assistance with my friend - which is so intimate and precious. Since then, I have been intentionally asking my friends if they need help with anything and organizing our time together around projects that would be more fun to do together. I have also been thinking about projects I can invite my friends to particpate in with me. Today my friend Ellen and I worked in her garden installing a drip irrigation system.