Dear Family and Friends, I need you. I enjoy your company. When I see you and speak with you, you set my scrambled mind to rights. We laugh. We have fun. We cry. We heal each other. We argue. We resolve.
How can we build a village together?
I’ve been taking time to think about friendships, and I’ve felt distressed that everyone is so busy, including myself. I started off feeling upset and hurt, and my thoughts have evolved.
Why am I so busy? Why do I not have the closeness in relationships that I need? How did my Mom have two kids and do this? I have one, and I hardly can handle this? Sure, she was at home, not working outside the home. This is what my fellow working-outside-the-home-(or home business)-mothers say. Remembering back to the infant Beren days before I went back to work… those weren’t easy either. My friends who are 'not employed’ are having no easier a time, it seems.
I’ve realized that it’s not me. I’m not unlikeable or a unreliable friend. I’m not overly sensitive, or easily stressed and overwhelmed. The whole set up is at odds with our human needs for support. Everyone is scattered so far apart and is busy. Busy with what. Everything. Paying the bills. Keeping up. Busy with nothing it sometimes seems.
I’m not sure what this means for me, but I have put aside the vague word ‘community’.
I can drift from one community to the next…conservation community, homeschool community, farm community, and so on. Of course, there’s online community, which is so impossible to hold. It is not real. It is not a replacement for sitting with myself or with others. I am unsure any of these communities are really communities, but instead are loose assemblages of people with common interest. Among these communities, I find friends. Good people. People I love. People I want to see but don’t because. Because I am too busy? Busy doing what?
I can easily slip from one community to the next. I don’t really ‘need’ any one community. I trust members of those communities as friends, colleagues, resources, and inspiration. If any of those communities would choose to dismiss me, I would survive.
I would be lonely, more lonely than I am now. I would grieve the loss. But perhaps I could find other communities. I could find other friends. I would survive. I would find my food elsewhere. I can get my goods and services at any market. I already have shelter. I have my own emotionally over-burdened nuclear family to care for my needs of companionship and love, and luckily I have support from my parents.
My nuclear family…The only community I really ‘need’ is my nuclear family. Because I live with them. If one of them left the community, especially my husband, I’d be lost. That’s frightening to me. Without him, I might move back into my childhood bedroom with my son. I would have to figure out how to start again, to retool my whole system. It is unreasonable to ask so much of one person, he of me and me of him.
I am tossing out the word community. Community is no one, it is nowhere. It is especially no one and nowhere because we are all so far apart. We are so busy. Our communication is often mediated and indirect. Our contact is irregular.
I am village-building. I need a village. A village is a place. People inhabit a village. The village connected to the village’s surroundings, to the plants, the animals. A village has a gathering place. A village has challenges. Right now, my village-building is me thinking. Me, waving my hands around. I need a village.