Have you ever lived in a family or a community? Most of us have had this experience, for better or worse. Some of us have been blessed with an ideal situation where we have found people who we really love and care about, who have functioned well in a loving, caring way toward each other. This experience is more rare. I remember growing up in a neighborhood with decent people who did not deeply care about each other. For the most part, they did better than tolerate their neighbors but, by and large, remained independent and superficial (or aloof) from their nearest neighbors. In primitive communities, neighbors worked together to survive and looked out for each other because they realized that it was too difficult to live comfortably completely on their own. But growing up in Southern California suburbs meant barely putting up with your immediate family, let alone the neighbors. At least, that is what it seemed to me.
No man is an island was a line in a 1624 poem by English poet, John Donne. Suggesting to me that we are all connected and the world is less if anyone goes missing. Also included in this poem, “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.” “Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in Mankind.” So some people reach out to deeply connect and care for others, and this serves all of us to do so. Caring and connecting makes us happier and healthier. Perhaps we can remember this and make connecting a higher priority. Some of us may need to be reminded that life experiences are better when these are shared experiences.
Whether people are conscious or not, most of us strive to be included in communities. We feel better in a “Tribe.” In this day and age, a tribe may be with other people who share a common interest or even passion. In the United States you can see the tribes gathering on weekends in the Fall of the year. People in the tribe dress up in colors and costumes to be included in the celebration of the religion of their favorite football team. A very tribal community with elaborate clothes (Jerseys), hats, and even War paint. There is competition to be the most devoted and fanatic among the tribe’s fans. This may be our primitive need to join and to be part of a tribe.
Consider that this need for community exists and many of us do not feel a part of a “Healthy” and supportive group of people. We have been too isolated by our cultural behavior where independence is worshiped and lack of trust runs strong. For many of us, the need for connection and community has begun to surface, especially, as we begin to face aging or our mortality. Being “alone” during these transitions is often scary and less conducive for healthy transitions and the learning we gain during these major transitional periods. At the very least, it is better to have mentors or role models to help cope with these difficult life lessons. Connection and community can be very useful in these times.
So I ask you, what are YOU doing to build and maintain a HEALTHY connection and community? Not just with fellow sport fans, co-workers, or folks you see in class, church, or club, but real deep connections with caring, supportive people who can “count on you” and you on them…. It takes time and effort, but for most people, it is worth the “trouble.”
Another perspective comes from metaphysical philosophy which tells us that we are all in this together, spiritually. We are all pilgrims and benefit from reaching around and assisting the fellow pilgrims we meet in life. If nothing else, know the value you can offer by allowing another person to share their story with you. You can even show respect by not interrupting, except for clarification, as your partner finds the depth of their experience to share with you. I know that YOU would love to be respected and “heard” as you attempt to share your truth. Blessings and patience. Learn to judge less and accept more, for this offers the deepest love you can give your fellow pilgrim.
The skills of “witnessing” and listening are taught and practiced by members of the spiritual support community, the Masters of the Journey. The Masters of the Journey is a supportive community who believes that we are each masters (of our lives) having lived through many life experiences. There are lessons learned and wisdom to share. Find your supportive connections and community!