There's an old fable I really love about a man who keeps praying to win the lottery. He lives a very righteous and noble life, but of course, he never wins the lottery, despite his consistent prayers and pious lifestyle. At his life's end, he falls to his knees and asks, "Oh God, why did you never let me win the lottery?"
God replies, "Why did you never buy a ticket?"
This reminds me of a rather bold friend I had in college who totally embodied the spirit of 'if you don't ask, you don't get.' This friend, whom I'll call J, would sometimes embarrass me in public, asking for things like better seats in restaurants or discounts for movie tickets. He even occasionally asked people we were visiting for things in thier homes...it embarrassed the daylights out of me at times, as well as his other friends and especially his quiet, mild-mannered girlfriend, but he would simply shrug his shoulders and say, 'Hey, all they can say is no. That's not going to kill me."
"But it's embrassing!" I'd say, and he'd laugh.
"I'd be more embarrassed if I wanted something and was afraid to ask for it," he'd reply.
I'm not sure if I'd ever take asking for what I want to the extreme that J did, but there was a method to his madness that I do now recognize...it comes back to the old adage, if you don't ask, you don't get. Whether you are asking the universe to bring into your life something you desire; your boss for that long overdue raise; a person whose smile you can't get off your mind to have dinner with you; or asking a stranger to let you have the window seat on a plane. If you don't ask, you don't get. Plain and simple.
Of course there is timing, and tact, and ways to ask without being as obvious as my friend was, but being bold enough to ask for what you want from life is a big step towards actually having it.
But the man in the fable reminds us that asking is not the only step. Sometimes we need to follow up that bold request with a little action. After all, we can't expect to win the lottery if we never buy a ticket!
Painting: Mixed Blood, by Amy L. Alley