The Art of Asking

I discovered Amanda Palmer even before I discovered Yoga. Heading out with my friends to a Nine Inch Nail gig, way back when, little did I know I would fall head over heels. The support act came on. A man and a woman, dressed in black and white, and styled in/as…

One drum kit. One piano. And then they started to play. I had never seen anyone play Piano like Amanda. (Or drums like Brian for that matter!)

A complete Tour de force – ferociously hammering keys, driving bass lines matched with passionate words about feminism, love, life, death… but what struck me, was her authenticity. She was unashamedly, unabashedly, Amanda. Nothing held back. And that is a powerful image to behold.

Since then I have followed Amanda’s journey and regularly lose myself in her words. (Her latest album was a Christmas gift from my husband, I couldn’t get past the second track – it had me in tears and was on repeat for days).

Her book, The Art of Asking, was written on the back of a TED talk of the same name. With a foreword from Brene Brown, how could I not read it?

Amanda at her TED talk 2013
Photo: James Duncan Davidson

In the book, Amanda outlines her life – it’s intimate – sharing details on her trials as a performance artist, her relationships, death, life, ideas around marriage, abortions, miscarriages, record deals… Nothing is left out. Everything is open and honest and incredibly raw.

And throughout the journey, Amanda ASKS. Beginning with asking for money in return for performance art while busking, to crowdfunding entire albums. To some, this still feels wrong. Amanda was certainly attacked at times for what was percieved as greedy – asking fans to help support your art.

Asking. We are so used to societal pressure telling us that we need to be independent, look after ourselves, strong. But we are a tribal species. We thrive on connection. So why is it so hard to ask?

The Art of Asking – Amanda Palmer

We, as a collective, seem to have built a society afraid of asking. A society who all feel they should be able to cope with anything. Do anything. Be everything. And never feel overwhelmed, or at a loss, or simple unable to achieve something due to cirucumstance.

Amanda argues, quite rightly, that we need to break this stigma around asking. We don’t HAVE to be alone. We have a CHOICE. We CAN ask for support, for money, for time, for a helping hand. And yes, people CAN say no (they also have a choice!) but nothing is lost in the process. In fact quite the opposite – asking takes deep courage to be vulnerable. It takes strength. It is us, standing in our authenticity, saying ‘In this moment I need… Can you help?’

So next time you are feeling overwhelmed. Next time you are struggling to achieve a goal – big or small.

Take a moment to think – Who could help me? And Ask!

If you’d like to delve more into Amanda’s work, please visit:

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