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June 2001

Help is all around you in time of need

NewsWire Editorial

Help is a thing our hearts thrive on, like a fresh current surfacing to carry a fish swimming upstream. HP 3000 owners are often self-reliant souls, people accustomed to needing less help because their work rarely carries the scent of crisis. That’s an apt description of our lives here at the NewsWire, too. But even the most capable of us can stumble into a crisis. There, in the torrent of trouble and fear of failure, the magic current of help reveals itself, soothing water we learn is all around us.

In the past month I have learned that a crisis can deliver gifts as well as challenges. It’s a little bit of a miracle to watch help appear in a time of need, to learn how abundant your community can be. For myself and my partner Abby Lentz here at the NewsWire, we watched help appear in a personal crisis. The response reminded me of scenes in your HP 3000 community.

The words “emergency” and “surgery” carry plenty of crisis on their own, but putting them together creates a challenge of another caliber. Last month Abby went to visit a doctor for a diagnosis, and ended up walking across the street after the visit for an emergency hysterectomy. After months of losing blood through peri-menopause because of fibroid tumors, she had no more time to try non-surgical remedies. My partner in life and business was going under the knife, an event whose biggest risk is loss of life.

Neither of us had any surgical experience on that afternoon we crossed the street together. The sudden sweep of my fear had to be forced back like so much negative current, once we put her life in the hands of surgeon we’d only met that day. I could feel destiny tap my soul’s shoulder when the nurse asked me that most vital pre-op question: “Is she full code, or Do Not Resuscitate?” It’s a routine question, but the answer is anything but, when it’s about someone you love like yourself. In plainer terms, I was being asked, “How far do we go, if something goes very wrong, to save her?”

As it happened, the nurse who was asking said she was a DNR herself. I asked why, and she said that “if God comes to get me, I am ready to go.” I knew Abby wasn’t ready to finish her joyful roller-coaster ride, so my answer was made easier by the nurse’s own reply.

In matters of crisis, sometimes such a sudden salve can appear. Opening your heart to hope seems to call it forth, like putting a question out in a newsgroup when your HP 3000 is in trouble. You don’t know where the help is going to come from. But you do know the origin of the faith in its appearance. In times of trouble, believing in help is the first step to receiving it.

Abby took her steps to call friends and family, and in the pitch of the two hours she was on the table, I had help to squeeze my hand, to hug my heart. Her brother walked the long steps back with me from the red line of the operating room, where the goodbye could be your last. I hadn’t imagined who I might lean on in those steps. A close friend and counselor who’d lost both parents in the last year arrived during the two-hour vigil, an angel of spirit and strength. Abby’s son contributed sustenance, bringing dinner for all of us waiting.

Each of them reported they were glad to offer whatever gifts they could. It’s something that’s easy to forget, these gifts that givers receive. Asking for help to solve a problem, learn something new like Web server setup, decide when to commit to new resources for your company — these are all chances for someone to enrich their lives, by helping. It also has given us both the chance to practice the purest of prayers, giving thanks.

After my long night of little sleep, feeding ice chips to soothe Abby’s parched throat, the dawn of her recovery arrived. A phalanx of friends paraded through her hospital room, leaving a thick coat of flowers along the window ledge. The blossoms were as rich as the answers I see rain down from questions on the 3000-L mailing list, one of the deepest sources of help in the 3000 community, or the factory-level advice found on 3kworld.com.

This kind of help has been a bedrock in my life among that community. I arrived with nothing but questions, and the seasoned experts were generous with answers. Back then I thought their largess was a great gift to me alone. But seeing friends arrive to make us meals, clean our house, lay on hands in healing massage, I spied in their eyes the reward of giving help. It’s not something to underestimate when you need help yourself, in crisis or otherwise. People want to help, if they know you’re in need.

Feeling that response — the surprise current to lift past the crisis or concern — has a lasting tonic in its waters. Being helped washes away future fears, delivers a depth to thanks that makes us certain we are worthy of more when we need it. I think of it like the free software so common now in the 3000 community, programs written and maintained as gifts by seasoned developers. Or it’s like the HP Invent3K server now ready for use, for free. These kinds of unbidden gifts — homemade soup, or the latest Samba/iX — will always be out there in a community that cares for one another.

That is the bedrock you can rely on by committing to your computer’s potential, as well as its past. At times I think the success of this community springs from the headwaters of its relationships, individuals who care for each other like the friends rallying to Abby’s recovery bed. I’ve watched that magic of their affection in the past week levitate her quickly into new health — and help me carry on here, and in the rest of our lives, while she returns to full speed.

Next year your computer platform will cross into its third decade, a point of information people try to use against it. That’s as futile as trying to douse a fire with gasoline. It’s that history, the depth of community, that makes the HP 3000 the best place to have problems — because help for them is so readily at hand. Having trouble is the best way to learn how rich you truly are. This month I am grateful to have been in need, to learn how the help of community can mend.

— Ron Seybold 


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