On Helping and Being Helped

I just returned from watching a showing of “I’ll Push You,” a movie chronicling the journey of two friends, Patrick and Justin as they travel five hundred miles along El Camino de Santiago in Spain. Many people complete this pilgrimage each year.

What’s unique about this journey is that Justin is confined to a wheelchair as a result of a¬†degenerative neuromuscular disorder. When Justin hatched this crazy idea, Patrick responded saying, “I’ll push you.” And push, pull, and lift he did.

At the outset, I had the expectation that this would be a movie about Patrick pushing Justin because he was helpless. Justin was clearly the one who needed the help. As their pilgrimage wore on, however, it became very clear that Patrick, though incredibly determined, could not have done this on his own. All along the way they were joined by friends and complete strangers who wanted to help them achieve their goal. Patrick ultimately had to learn to rely on others.

When you deny someone the opportunity to help. You deny them the joy in life. ~Justin Skeesuck

The heartbeat of this blog has always been about the value and nobility in serving others. While that’s important, sometimes we have to be humble enough to be served — to realize that life isn’t easy — and sometimes it’s near impossible.¬†It requires a community of people around us if we’re going to make it through.

Having known Justin for many years, I was also struck by his positive and upbeat spirit throughout the trek — but that’s been a consistent quality of his for much longer. That positivity played a massive role in their success.

Those are just a couple thoughts after getting to watch Justin and Patrick’s journey on the big screen this evening. I hope you’ll check out the movie, I’ll Push You and the book that goes with it and let me know what you think.

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