Emergent Community — 4 Comments

  1. I hear you Rachel … having the interplay nurtures any relationship and you are right that I have a different view of community than you but what we share are the same human needs — to be loved, valued/appreciated. For much of my life (from childhood we are so trained in this) I felt loved & valued when others did or said things I equated with love. Naturally, when they didn’t do or say what I thought was love my abandonment story would kick in and I felt horrible, rejected, unloved. I realized that this yo-yo’ing was unhealthy (much like yo-yo dieting) so I needed to dig deeper within myself and fill myself up by giving myself the love & compassion I sought from others. And so began my self-loving practice. Being loving and compassionate to myself is a moment to moment process of self-discovery that is nurtured by a variety of practices. It started with gratitude (I was inspired by Melody Beattie’s work in this area). I found that to be the most powerful process since it has me focus my attention on what I have, not what I feel is missing. My practice is continually evolving and includes spending time in silence, sharing myself, being vulnerable, accepting when I don’t feel open, being responsible for my reactions to whatever life presents, staying awake.

    My community is a group of individuals … each one as different as day and night. In my relatings with them I noticed something that I describe this way … where I enter with each one of the people in my life is distinct & unique and I love that ’cause I’m many people. Some reach out more, some less; I reach out to some I might to more of the reaching, others do more of the reaching … it’s a mixed bag as you say, not all one thing or another. What I know is we love each other and we are all doing our best … such is the nature of my community!

    Thanks again for starting this conversation and happy peeling back the layers in your self-discovery.

    • I am so enjoying this exchange, Donna Marie, because you’re bringing in another aspect yet again: Self-connection and self-love. I so agree with you that this is the foundation! And i don’t think i would have been able to let go of something that was much less than what i am yearning for if i had not had rebuild my inner strength through loving-kindness practice (in my case, i am enjoying Tara Brach’s flavor).

      Another thing i keep bumping into: The way our society is currently structured with the focus on 9-to-5 work, single houses, well, and money, the community i am dreaming of might not even be possible without radical changes in all aspects of our lives. And that’s a rather scary endeavor, so many of us might not be ready for it. Ironically, the deep community i envision would be a great support in making that change happen.

      Lots of gratitude to you, Donna Marie, for this stimulating exchange, especially because you helped add a couple of crucial pieces: The structures for a community (aka rules of the dance) and the practices for inner well-being.

  2. Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for presenting your experiences which always evoke the deepest thought and allows me to look at my own relationship to life and living. As I consider your examples of community interdependence, it occurs to me that there are rules of dance that are at work which all involved agree to play by. The fact is that human beings are reacting in so many diverse ways that it is difficult to have all our relatings (even the most intimate ones) react in harmony in every situation all the time. I have learned that it is up to me to be what I need or say what I need rather than expect the people in my life to know what I need in any given moment. It’s tricky though ’cause saying what I need is not a guarantee that the person is always going to do/say/act in the way I need to feel loved or valued … so my commitment is to feed myself with love so I am full with self-love and self-value. Of course, this does not prevent the feelings of loss of self-love that arise as a reaction to someone’s behavior however, I now know that my reaction is my own and I now take responsibility for that … it’s not the other person making me react in that way, rather it’s my past (and the beliefs I have attached) that is at play. Of course, it’s an ongoing process of dismantling the conditioned thoughts (Landmark Education uses the term, uncollapsing, which speaks to separating the actions of others from the meaning I make up as a result of others’ actions.

    • Thank you for pointing out that there are rules in dance and also for choirs! I am excited because that is adding to my metaphor! Intentional communities survive only if they take the time to put structures in place that ground the community in mutual agreements on things like vision, missing, membership plans, and conflict resolution strategies. Without those structures, the community cannot survive. (This is based on Diana Leafe-Christian’s work).

      I am guessing that you have a different vision for “community,” more along the lines of what i would call a collection of individuals. Your response makes clear to me that the metaphor wasn’t as helpful to get my vision across as i had hoped.

      I agree that it’s our responsibility to communicate what we need. We cannot expect others to read minds! However, what i am longing for is moving away from the idea that it is all my responsibility. If we want to live in community in the way i envision it, we need to take responsibility for each other, too. That could be as simple as checking in with each other by asking “how are you?” with the genuine intention of hearing the answer rather than going through the motion. It’s the interplay of this that is important. It’s not an either/or; it’s a both-and.

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