In my 20's I definitely was operating from my 'helping' mode. with passing of age, common sense kicking in, chucking away the academic and social conditioning became much easier, and with it, transition from 'helping' to 'serving' mode began to emerge.
Last year a close friend of mine, just in her 40's was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. 20 years ago she and I worked very closely. I had introduced her to bio-mimicry, we had great plans to work on climate change, through biomimicry in South Africa..'helping' communities. But.our paths took us away and we did not have much contact for many years. Until I heard from someone last year, that she is seriously sick. I reached out. She was coming to Cape Town for her treatments. She asked if she could stay in my house. It was a big moment for me, I had not cared for someone with cancer. She walked in - took her slippers and lay in my garden. This simple act of offering the space was an act of serving. After two weeks when she left to return to her home in another province, she said, all I needed was to be in this healing sanctuary. There was no 'fixing' simply serve as she showed up at my place, it was a big moment for me. Moment of gratitude. Two months later she passed on, apparently very peacefully in her sleep. I often reflect on this event, how a simple act of serving fils one with gratitude. As opposed to the anxiety and expectation of 'fixing' and the frustration when the illusion shatters that 'helping' is not working.