Lean on Me

While mowing the lawn I caught a glimpse of something pinkish-red in our Golden Delicious apple tree. Upon closer examination I discovered that both the pink and yellow rose bushes are using the tree—trellis fashion—to climb its strong trunk and limbs. Smiling, I hummed the ever-popular song Lean on Me while I finished moving the yard.

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

We’ve all had occasion when we needed to lean on someone else for support—be it body, mind, or spirit. Likewise, we’ve made ourselves available in return. Much like removing water wings from a new swimmer, or training wheels from a new bicyclist, the tricky part is knowing when to remove ourselves from the equation so the person returns to independence.

When was the last time you let someone lean on you?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2013

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72 thoughts on “Lean on Me

  1. You are so right about knowing when to let someone lean on me and when to let them resume independence. There is a difference between leaning and carrying. One implies taking a rest while the other implies a free ride! I need to make sure I know the difference.

  2. We have had a particularly hot summer in Britain this year, and a few weeks back , my King Charles Spaniel, Oscar, collapsed .This was due to the weather and an on going problem with his hind leg . So I scooped him up in my arms not knowing which way to turn . My 22 year old son Cameron just literally took charge of the situation . He bungled me up to the vet, in the car, like a bat out of hell . Even though he was just about to go to work . Now, can i just say Cameron and myself do not get on at the best of times . If fact we spend more times at loggerheads than not and yet this young man came to my aid like an angel, much like his father would if he had been there . So could say Oscar leaned on me and I leaned on Cameron .
    Take care Cherry x

  3. Barry and I take turns leaning on each other when needed, that’s for sure. And my friends and I do the same. Sometimes one of us needs a little extra. Thank goodness for hearts big enough to give and receive when necessary.

  4. What a beautiful thing! You gotta love nature. It knows how to utilize resources. I’ve been utilizing all my available resources for awhile now. My divorce is close to being final. I am starting a whole new life with the opportunities wide open for business and personal. I appreciate the friends who have lent an ear or a couch. Some have leaned on me and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to help others when I felt like I had nothing left to give. It just goes to show we all need to lean on each other sometimes. It all comes back around.
    Thanks for the great post to remind me of what I’m grateful for today.
    🙂 Make it a great day!

  5. Love this and thank you. I struggle with the fact that with a couple of friends I am always holding them up, however, when I reach out to lean on them, they revolt, run, turn away and I always feel like it is me. This helps me to keep the focus that friendship is a symbiotic relationship. Thank you!

    • Wildflower Women – This is the part where I say, “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”

      In my experience, someone who stands on your shoulders to remain safe while you’re head is under water isn’t a friend. Establish healthy boundaries with these people and if they don’t honor and respect them, it’s time to remove them from the equation.

      • This reply makes me feel better, as does your admonition “whatever you’re not changing, you’re choosing.” I had to remove a long-term *friend* from the equation a few months ago. After decades of being one (of many) she had leaned on all through her adult life — to the point where your analogy above is apt — and after she dismissed my clearly stated boundaries this last time for whatever reason, I’m just done. I feel a little guilty, yes — but it’s the kind of guilt I’ll get over.

  6. Beautiful! One of nature’s little treats. Would love to see this in person. Finding balance has always been the tricky part for me. I seem to attract leaners and find it difficult to ask for support. Every year I get a little bit better at finding a balance, one of the many gifts of aging!

  7. Lovely photos – our neighbor’s trumpet vines come into our yard and weave themselves through our trees and bushes. I just love them. Who do I lean on? Good question – when you’re a mom, you kind of feel like everyone leans on you. I would say my good friends….

    • Elysesalpeter – The cool thing about being leaned on as a parent, is that at some point in the distant future, when we’re in the last chapter of our lives, our then-adult children might make themselves available for us to lean on a bit if needed 🙂

  8. I find that women especially have a difficult time with this balance. Most of us are good at one but not the other, yet both are important for our own health as well as the health of our chosen community. I used to pride myself on being “independent,” but as I get older, I realize the importance of leaning on the strengths of others, too.

    • Jzrart – “…and everyone falls down” brings dominoes to mind. It’s a fine balancing act, to be sure. As Julie Martin said, knowing when to be the leanee, and knowing when to be the leaner, is vital.

  9. Laurie, we can all use a support at times to hold us up as we catch our breath. Growing stronger we are able to offer that support to others knowing that at some point that same person will extend their strength to those who need a resting place. How good it is to pass on such small but helpful act, to be a link in the Chain of Support.

  10. I believe I have always been a pretty good leaning tree. It comes from being well grounded most of the time I suppose. Like the apple tree and roses it seems to most often work out quite well. Though if I spot an ivy climb that could choke the life out of me with its enthusiasm and parasitic nature, I take note and nip it is the bud.

  11. Just the other day, as I was walking out to my car, my neighbor approached me saying “I just have to vent”. She wasn’t asking for anything other than to be received, exactly as she was, frustration and all. She walked away with a smile on her face, on the in-breath of fresh air. I didn’t do anything but ‘be’ there. . . sometimes an ear is all that’s needed.

  12. Terrific, creative post Laurie! And a great song, so well integrated into the spirit of today’s presentation. Ah yes, leaning. I just had an out of control special needs student not less than an hour ago (literally) lean on me. Ha! It took a bit of time to get things in order too.

    • Sam – The positive ripple effect you’ve made, and will continue to make, through the years as a teacher is something I hope you get to view (a parting of the clouds, so to speak) in the extremely distant future when you’re on the other side.

  13. How lovely is a rambling rose – or two? I don’t encourage leaning much (or often), but I tell myself it’s because I offer quality leaning rather than quantity! At the moment my big sister is awaiting a kidney transplant and going through a divorce, so she is allowed to lean as much as she likes! She’ll soon have to budge up and let little sister lean on me for a little while too, as she is her kidney donor. And obviously our mum will need to be squeezed in too. 🙂

  14. Thank you for this beautiful post, Laurie. I recently had an opportunity to be honoured by being leaned on. I write, had the opportunity… But, sadly, I missed that opportunity. Some times the call is very faint and I’m too busy, in my own head, to hear it. I can only hope that I will be given the opportunity again, soon. And that this time I will hear it.

  15. I love your photos above … wonderful when nature provides you with inspiration for your blogs isn’t it. And you have the eyes to see and the heart to know.
    Last week I was facilitating training, then voices started speaking of pain and needs. I was able to provide support simply by “holding the space” with and for them. They spoke authentically and without blaming or judgment. They’ve gone through a lot as an organization the past many years. We did not move to solution creating. We stayed in the space of deep listening. This meets, I believe, your model of allowing “independence.”
    I too am fortunate to have friends who can listen with me. It reminds me of the Quakers practices.

    • Audrey – yes, Yes, YES! What you described definitely flows to independence. Your description of “holding space” is what I call HeartLight. And your style of deep listening is the same as “Satsang” — the Buddhist practice of sacred listening. Thank you for sharing your recent experience here.

  16. I should also say … the next step will be for the group with their current leader to create space for moving through and out of the painful situations.

  17. I love your lawn mowing inspired posts!!!
    I could definitely write about the Morning Glory, IVY, and blackberry explosion of growth since lasts week storm. As Terrill says parasitic beauty which eventually distroys.
    I have been spending numberous hours trying to maintain control.

    Last night I had to lean on the police as someone was setting off all the security lights in my yard and then crashing down the bluff to the lake through the untamed woods as I was trying to go to sleep – Zip was barking like crazy so I was leaning on his good advice too.

    I am usually in the caregiver role in my life and just wish I could find someone to lean on to have a good conversation especially about health care /self care….do people even have true conversations any more?

    I am truly leaning on my partner right now for food and shelter and basic needs and I certainly do not want this to become a dependence.

    Interesting ideas to play with here – as always

    I am shamelessly going to promote my current book review here – I really want this fable/novel to go viral….it is such a gift to the world


    • Patricia –

      It’s not shameless at all, I loved the review you wrote and added the book to my reading list 🙂

      One good link deserves another…as to a good person to talk with as it relates to healthcare and self-care, here’s a link to my friend, Dorothy Sander’s, blog: Aging Abundantly. You can also find on her twitter @agingabundantly. She’s a woman with a LOT of answers!

  18. Ailsa and I allow quite a bit of leaning, in different domains.

    A bit strange here at the present moment. Very gust winds, one moment calm, then 5 minutes later 70 knots of wind, then back to calm – constant thunder in the background, showers over the mountains, the siren just went off for the volunteer fire brigade, America’s cup racing is about to start. Very strong gusts of wind over night had me waking frequently – though Ailsa slept through it all.

  19. Laurie, what a perfect metaphor for helping each other grow by accepting other’s who are different that we are and support others who need our encouragement. What a lovely visual! You have a remarkable eye for seeing the unexpected and appreciating it’s beauty. Thanks for sharing, again!!

  20. I don’t much like being leaned on. Folk get heavy. Why, I helped this one woman over the spring and she turned on me something awful. I hate to even think of her. I’m gonna cut this response short so I can think about something more pleasant, if you don’t mind.

  21. Beautiful post, Laurie. I have a lot of family members leaning on me; I take full responsibility of a nephew’s education and other needs; I help out my brother every now and then. I regularly remit an old uncle who took care of my father for three years before he passed away. And many others. I hardly lean on any one, not even my husband. I lean on my Maker. 🙂

  22. Everybody needs to have a friend…everybody needs a helping hand…I try to be there for anyone who needs someone to lean on…I’m not always very good at it, sometimes time is against me, sometimes patience is shamefully short or the mood far from what it should be…but in the past when I had no-one to lean on I learned very quickly what a devastatingly lonely place that can be, and I do my best to be there with a big flapping sympathetic Wolfie ear as much as I can. Sometimes it takes so little to turn anothers day around and help them see the spring again…the cherry blossom glowing warm and pink amongst the rich, green beauty of the trees of nature…. 🙂 Your photos are beautiful and brought sunshine and hope into this dark, rain-filled night here in UK 🙂

  23. I don’t know if anyone has ever leaned on me, really. And I’ve not leaned on anyone. And I know that isn’t good.

    Enjoyed this post – very valid.

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