Finding one’s community is a bit like dating. We may encounter places within us we didn’t even know existed.
Some of us know ours immediately. We’re born. We take the path set before us by our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. We glean purpose and meaning from tradition and ritual. We find comfort in the known and familiar.
Some of us come to these things later in life, after oats have been sown and continents traversed; while some of us wind and weave the above together, creating our own unique path.
And then, there are those of us who run.
Just like mating.
These choices are rarely conscious, especially when we’re young. But they become more so over time. They’re all a function of the most basic of human desires: belonging. We stay when we feel we do and we (often) leave when we don’t.
Community is a primary factor in cultivating happiness. Some of us are born into ones that fit like a glove, while others go searching for theirs.
Every community has some form of currency they trade in. It can be creative, financial, physical, emotional and/or spiritual. It’s the currency itself that matters. And understanding our own is likely the most direct means to finding the one that fits.
I liken this to the 5 Love Languages. In his book, Dr. Gary Chapman argued that we each have a love language, a primary way we give and receive love. The five are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts and Physical Touch.
I’d argue that there’s a community version as well. It’s interesting that in astrology the third house rules community and communication. Both share the same root in revealing aspects of the self by reaching outward.
While some people prefer a little distance, others crave a deeper involvement. Some prefer a creative set, and others are more traditional. Communities are essentially extensions of ourselves– they reveal our likes, dislikes and our values.
I have learned unabashed fearless self-expression in the East Village, the art of intellectual rigor from academics, the light-bearing warmth of women’s gatherings, the fierce boldness of entrepreneurs, the power of belief in the religious, the commitment to craft by artists and writers, the global attunement of the financially astute, and the magnificence of tradition from those so inclined. I could go on, but you get the point. Each person gleans their own gifts. It’s the reflection, the learning, and the willingness to explore and take what we can from each experience.
The beauty of community, unlike dating (save polyamory) is we can engage with many, if we choose. We can find pieces of ourselves and nurture them. Or we can settle into one. It’s the discovery itself and the willingness to engage and connect.
What have you discovered along your journey? Who have you encountered? And what have they taught you?