There is a spectrum to asking – all the way from clumsy and heartfelt to bold, brassy and choreographed. It is a simple thing to ask and with the invitation comes expectation, trust, hope. The fear of rejection can bring a paralysing effect to an ask and equally the potential may bring excitement. Crafting an ask is a work of art. Siddling up and gently putting a question fuelled by courage opens the other to receive the gift of the invitation and in turn join in the dance as a partner to complete the ask.
I learnt from a past Premier, never to be afraid to ask, what is the worst that can happen – they say no and you at least now know that is the answer so you have more than you did before the ask. I have developed a shamelessness in asking over time, and try and put the ask as an act of anticipation and invitation to join something bigger. I am rarely disappointed and if the answer is no, the door is still ajar to come back again or work towards another opportunity.
There is the ask that comes with deep humility and the acceptance with gratitude and honour for having been asked. These moments are often sacred and bring a wholeness to both parties. Being asked to hold another’s hand in childbirth, on a death bed, in a chamber of horrors … all asks imbued with deep privilege dripping from the moment into a future sacred memory.
Ask and you shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened … lines from the Christian tradition equally matched in other religious traditions. To ask is an intentional act and being able to ask is to put yourself in a position of vulnerability; after all you might be rejected. But without asking you will remain innocent and blind to the possibility of unlocking or unleashing of a latent gift longing to be shared.
To ask, is a promise to tomorrow, the future embedded in the act. As well as asking more, there is the respect I can bring to the asks that come my way, to give them the due courtesy they deserve to be answered honestly and as often as I can.
I am being asked a lot right now in my life, and to receive the questions with the purity they deserve, uninfected by fears is a discipline to tomorrow. To live in the ask, is to live with openness and possibility, to act as if every invitation is a step towards wholeness. Living the questions brings the gift of an ask. Every question is embedded with an ask to ourselves. As Rainer Maria Rilke writes:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”