Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
For anyone who knows me, and is familiar with Main Street Yoga, it will come as no surprise that that’s where I have discovered community here in the hinterlands of Pennsylvania. Before MSY, it was a pretty barren social landscape for me around here.
But even though MSY has been, and continues to be, my oasis in the desert, I crave even more. I want to feel community outside the yoga community. Yoga is a big part of my life, yes, but it’s not the only part. This prompt has made me think in utopian ways, and to imagine my ideal community, the kind of place that would nourish me in all of my aspects.
It would have to start with the neighborhood. Ideally, I’d want to live in a place where I’d know all the neighbors and they’d know me, too. I wouldn’t have to hang out with them, or like them all, but I’d need to be on friendly, neighborly terms with them. Cup of sugar? Snowblow your driveway? Sure!
When I think back on Levittown, where I grew up, I think it was a crime that we only knew one of our neighbors. For my whole childhood I had no idea who lived across the street or in the house in the back. My mother was the antithesis of a “neighborly” kind of person. So I’d definitely want to fix that.I am a neighborly kind of person, so I definitely need to know the neighbors.
Next, I want to have friends. Many friends. Not just one or two or three. So how many is “many?” Fifty. At least. Yes. 50 friends. An inner circle of 25, and then a close, but outer circle of 25 more. Then beyond these 50, lots of “acquaintances” –people like my mail person, and my favorite checker at the food store, and my wine person and people I see at yoga, the gym, and at writing group.
I’d want to be part of a food co-op, and to volunteer someplace, and maybe join a weekly meditation group. I’d want to have “special interest” friends too, like kayaking buddies, or hiking friends, or foodies, or people who share my interest in crap TV.
And I’d want to know these people in real life–and yes, “friend” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter too, but more, I’d absolutely have to know them in real life and be able to have a coffee with them, or go to lunch, or have them over for pizza and beer.
So I always wonder: Why I don’t have that here? Is it me? Am I too particular?
I don’t think so. But I do have some definite friend requirements. I think there has to be a shared zeitgeist between friends, a shared worldview. I can’t be friends with people who whine and complain, for instance. I have a hard time with cynics, too. And hypochondriacs. I can’t abide gossips or any kind of pettiness or mean-spiritedness, either. Angry or violent people just plain scare me, and people with chips on their shoulders? Ick. No.
I also have trouble with ideologues, but I do love passionate people, even if I do not share their passions. I love artists and creative people of all sort. I love people who, when I leave their presence, make me feel happy, uplifted and inspired to do more with my own life.
That’s the kind of community I’m looking for. I currently know maybe one or two people with some of these traits, but I’m looking for a whole bunch, a community, a critical mass, numbers. Like at least 50.
I feel I would grow and thrive in a community of intelligent optimists (to borrow the tag line from Ode Magazine.) Where are those people hiding around here? I can’t seem to find them–or at least not enough of them to make a minion.
I don’t know how to remedy this in 2011, other than to stay open and keep looking and keep trying to magnetize to me what I need in my life.
In his great book, Who’s Your City, Richard Florida says that, “We seek out places to live that reinforce and reflect aspects of who we are and who we want to become.” Does where I live now reflect who I am? What I want to become? It’s a question that deserves serious consideration.