I have been thinking about community. Do you have a sense of belonging to a community? (A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common, or a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.)
I don’t belong to my local community. (How do you meet people in your neighbourhood? How do you get a feeling of local community?) I’ve been living in this neighbourhood for four months and I’ve only seen one neighbour long enough to say “Hello” and introduce myself. (Oh, and one neighbour came around to complain about the dog, who was listening to Alain de Botton lectures at top volume and, frankly, upsetting us all.) If I walk up and down my street, all I see is lifeless houses, with the cars occasionally entering and departing the driveways. I guess all the parents are getting to know each other while waiting at school gates and football practice? But for the rest of us; I have no idea how we have any sense of community.*
As a Christmas gift, James organised an intensive meditation course for us both. As a young adult, I thought that meditation and yoga were silly and pretentious things, but since I’ve been a grownup, I’ve been interested in meditation, but haven’t had the right opportunity to try it. So, this was a gift (super nice), and we booked in for this 4-day course (1.5 hours per day), and it was pricy, but you get free monthly drop-in classes after you’ve finished it. That seemed like a good setup to me, because I’m not great at spending money on myself (e.g. yoga, health services, health food and other health products, nice clothes, nice things) and I feel a bit guilty every time I do.
My dog thinks he’s a skateboard.
Just popping down to the skate park, he says.
I shrug and go back to work. He takes himself out for a few hours, trots down to the skate park, avoiding the helping hands of people who try to reach out and grab him, thinking that he’s a lost dog. He arrives at the asphalt and plays it cool, to begin with. Hovers around the sidelines, watching the others. When he feels comfortable, when he is ready to play it really cool and brave the track, he slides into place with all the other skaters, and practices his tricks, gets his balance right. Finesses his technique.
What do you do, when you are at a girl friend’s house, but they are a friend you don’t know *that* well, and one of their male friends (you’ve never met before) becomes anxious and agitated, and tensely yells, “Oh should I just calm down? Should I just calm down? Should I just calm down?” while racing back and forth through the kitchen, from the hallway door to the porch door, before stopping at the porch door and banging their head against the door, hard, several times? And everyone is making hushing noises, and someone offers them a chair and calmingly touches their shoulder, but the guy violently strikes their hand away… and five minutes pass, and people resume chatting, trying to get things back to normal, and the event is glossed over, like nothing happened?
When I was a kid, my parents had some friends who I really liked, and wanted to see more often.
Billy and Ted lived in England, then in France. They were fascinating to me. I liked their children, too, but I enjoyed being around those grownups. They had traits that my parents didn’t, and I wanted to learn more. I remember Ted telling me about skiing through the alps, and I wanted to know more. I remember Billy taking me to a department store (it felt very fancy, but it was probably the equivalent of Target!) and when she showed me her favourite makeup brand, and I admired it, she bought me a red lip gloss and I was ecstatic! It felt so grownup and expensive and special.
Adam Grant has a personal project called Eggs on Toast with Thyme, where he’s collecting very short stories about time travel. He began with 29 stories from Mechanical Turk, then moved onto stories by friends. My one is here.