Feeling the Tribe

I still don’t live with my tribe.

And although this is hard for me, lately I’ve heard a lot of people from many different places say the exact same thing. Even people who live in notoriously cool places.

I heard a podcast this week in which a pretty famous writer said that even thought he lives in Austin, TX, which is a pretty  artsy place, most of the people he feels closest to live elsewhere, and he connects with them online.

It seems obvious that a yoga teacher living in Mansfield, PA, population 3600, might not be living with her tribe, but a writer in Austin,?

So maybe I shouldn’t think it’s so depressing to be living in a place with no grocery store, or art, or activism, or people with any obsessive passions whatsoever.

Maybe I just need to “Suck it up, Sally” and get used to ordering my organic food online (or drive to another state to get it) and get my art fix from reading about it on the internet, and console myself with written accounts of people living with passionate intensity.

Maybe this is what most people do. Maybe this is just normal and I should quit whining, thinking I am the only one.

Today I went to Ithaca. The last time I was there was in January for my Winterlude.  Ithaca is where I feel a strong tribal affiliation. The people are engaged and bright and interesting, because most of them are invested in some kind of project. And when I have even the briefest of conversations with anyone, and they sketch out their lives for me,  it always makes me feel amped and inspired.

But my biggest inspiration in Ithaca is Zee.

Today she gave a benefit reading at the Tompkins County Public Library, and since Sandy so generously subbed for me, I was able to attend.  The reading was stellar, but what was even better was the vibe of love for Zee in that room. She has built a particular tribe around writing, and the love of books, and reading, and creativity.

About 50 of us smiled and laughed as she told stories  (half fictional/half autobiographical) of a spunky, sassy girl negotiating the confusing, and often absurd world of family and friends.

When it was finished we gave her a standing ovation. The whole day warmed my heart. And the icing on the cake was that it was even a warm day: in the 60s and sunny!

It was so sweet, and so comforting to walk the .streets of Ithaca and feel a part of Zee’s tribe.

Thinking back on Elizabeth Gilbert’s post yesterday, I want to remember that even though some tribes are toxic and you have to abandon them, the power of true and deep belonging is as rare as it is transformative. And I felt that spark of transformation today.

Thanks, Zee.

Thanks, Ithaca.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Rich in Friends

Right after I posted last night, G sat me down and said,” Look. Nobody is paid what they’re worth. Nobody. Who could afford to pay either of us what we are truly worth?  We are Linchpins.  We don’t work for money anyway. We express ourselves authentically in the world. We never look at the “job description” and keep ourselves in line with that. We serve. We have a work ethic that says, in effect, “Do the best work you possibly can.” So don’t worry about money, Kath. Just keep doing what you are doing, because what else CAN you do?”

And she was right. And she made me feel so much better.

Right before I shut down for the night, I saw that an email had come in from my dear friend Zee with the subject line: “About Money.”

Here’s what she wrote:

Sweet friend, it really is NOT about money! For this lifetime you have been given the gift of love, of adoration, by people who value YOU and don’t put a price tag on your contributions, which are too numerous to even mention. It’s like having sponsors, benefactors…. You are the one who makes life an art, so you are the sponsored artist. Michelangelo? Embrace the gifts dear friend. You deserve them. You don’t have to earn them.
Love, zee

My heart broke open.

I am rich in my friends. I am rich in my relationships. I am rich beyond bank accounts and bottom lines.

How do I let myself get so turned around about all this money stuff? Sheesh.

Today we finished up my taxes and now I am ready for the accountant.

It’s all good.

It really is.

In Loving Silence

Today we (G and I) attended a brunch to celebrate the new marriage and the the 30 year anniversary of two of our best friends, Zee and Marty. The food was delicious, the company was sparkling, but what touched me the most about the whole day (and so many things touched me) was when Zee asked us all (about 16 guests) to join hands and share a moment of silence with them.

When Zee and Marty got married at the courthouse in Ithaca after New York sanctioned gay marriage, they took their vows in silence.  And then again today, after expressing her love for all of us in attendance, she asked us all to stand in silence together.

In that silence, happy tears fell from many eyes.  It was a moment of holiness, and deep intimacy.  (Zee starts all of her writing circles at Emma’s with a minute or two of silence, too, so it felt like being home.)

At most weddings, I feel snarky.  I think: “What are the odds that this will last?”  A wedding is just the beginning.  Everything is easy in the beginning.  It’s a whole different situation to stand in silence with two people who have weathered the storms of thirty years and still look at each other with love and perfect devotion.

Today I felt honored to stand in such loving silence.