I talked about how we should be spending the first part of our transformation growing, listening, and learning in Part 1 of this series: Who We Were Meant to Be.
Then, I explained pursuing what is good in the final stage of our metamorphosis in Part 2: Being True and Good to Ourselves.
I was so passionate about this third and final part that I went into my default writing mode, which leans toward a more academic style. But, that speaks BORING. So never mind that. If you really want to see what I wrote at the start, I’ve left it at the end of this post. Instead, I’ve decided to tell some stories that I hope will drive my point home.
A few years back, I got the insatiable impetus to write. I know, I’ve mentioned that a number of times, now. But, it’s really important. The calling to talk about love was strong and didn’t go away. It came at a time when my life was falling apart. I felt I had little understanding of love. If anything, I miscalculated, didn’t get much, and felt much pain and betrayal from alleged “love.”
I don’t remember how this commission to write came about. No one whispered anything in my ear. There was no flashing of light. I just knew it had to be about love in a real, tangible way. When I first started, I was writing in the form of non-fiction, but that wouldn’t reach a broad audience quite as easily. So, I switched over to writing fiction.
And it was during this turbulent time (of my life) that I was pregnant with twins. Anything could go wrong with carrying multiples. But, a doula, who had heard about my situation, volunteered to be my laboring support. And, I also had a midwife by my side, who advocated for my needs, desires, and the twins and my well-being and safety. Though I had asked for no medication to manage pain and I didn’t think I could grimace my way through delivering the twins, bringing them into the world was smooth and without complication. Having a community of support around me had a crucial role to play there.
When the twins were born, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get everything done. I was recovering from delivering babies and nursing them every two hours. But, my oldest was going to a charter school that took over half-an-hour’s drive, door to door. And, I had another child in preschool at a different school, a few mornings a week. I wasn’t ready to give up various commitments I had made for the sake of the kiddos. Yet, I could see how everything was going to turn out navigating things on my own. I was going to do a mediocre, crappy job. I’d be downright exhausted from not resting enough to recover and from stopping multiple times to and from the eldest’s school to nurse babies and change diapers.
A friend volunteered to take my oldest to and from school for that first year, to take a load off and to give me time to recover. She also invited us to join her family on holidays. And we came as we were, sadness, tears, dirty diapers, and all. That friend is a forever friend and family, now. Thanks to her and her family, I didn’t do horribly. And that time in my life didn’t go down in flames. It will be remembered fondly, as a time where we were taken in and loved. All because of community.
And now, I want to provide that community of love and support for others, through my writing.
How has community —whether friends, acquaintances, or family — supported or loved you?
Below is the original, “academic” version of the post.
But, here, in the last part, Part 3, I want to emphasize that pursuing things that bring out individual personalities is not enough.
As fully transformed individuals or butterflies ready to take flight, we have a job to do. It’s a VIJ, a Very Important Job. Each of us has a unique role to play in that VIJ.
We’re supposed to encourage others to do the same and guide them as they figure out who they are and what is good for them.
We’re being asked to be ambassadors, representing and presenting what is important.
So far as I can tell, my part in the Very Important Job involves:
- Building interpersonal relationships. I encourage and walk alongside others, whether the relating involves parent to child, peers, or crowds of acquaintances and strangers. I listen, cook a meal for someone else, meet people where they are.
- Writing. Through my works of fiction (a series in magical realism), I share how hope, love, and wonder are possible, in the midst of trials, trying circumstances, complicated relationships, and challenges juggling life.
So, art of the transformation is about us as individuals. But the other half, a super important one, requires bringing your gifts and abilities to a community and connecting with people, in a real and tangible way.
I don’t think we can truly be at our best, until we’re in community with others.
5 thoughts on “Teeming and Teaming with Awesomeness”
Your “academic” points are not lost on the recovery movement. I speak, of course, of the now many “Anonymous” groups out there. It all began with Alcoholics Anonymous in the late 1930s, of course, but there are now dozens of groups where people gather in community to help one another (in this case, to conquer the negative affects of addictions). There’s Narcotics Anonymous — and a more specialized one, Cocaine Anonymous, and — sorry, all you folks who still believe that old hippie fake-science assumption that marijuana ain’t additive — Marijuana Anonymous. There’s a thriving chapter for that one, right here in legalized Colorado. Why, there’s even a Gamers Anonymous. No, I’m not kidding. Video games are addictive. What they all have in common is that they meet together and work together and help one another. Talk to anyone in one of those groups. They will tell you: Addiction cannot be defeated alone. As an individual. It can only be defeated in a community setting. With others who’ve been there. Others who “get it.” Who know where you’re coming from. There is absolutely no substitute for the company of like-minded folks who, even if it’s only because you share the same struggles, you can call compatriots. Someone you can call when things get tough, and they’ll not only answer, but they’ll hear you and understand. And someone for whom you can return the favor. The 12th Step of the 12 Steps, the “program” of the Anonymous groups, calls for each member to pass on to others what that member has received, “and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.” The things one has learned in community, one is to pass on, in community, to others. There is no place for the Lone Ranger. The Self-Made Man or Woman.The Self-Sufficient Sage. The Know It All. No one has it all. We all need each other. And we often don’t know how desperately we need each other until a crisis strikes. Might it be better to seek close community before crisis comes? Now there’s a radical idea.
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Good examples. In fact, there seems to be support for family and friends of addicts as well. And, being in community there, receiving support and encouragement, can be quite helpful.
In the past 8 months I’ve walked through some of the most difficult moments of my life to date. Community has been vital. First, community has been important in keeping me in the light. When things have been bleak, it was good to get outside of myself and see the world around me. Second, community was essential for my sanity. I learned I wasn’t alone in my thoughts or experience. I was able to stop being so hard on myself. Community pointed the way to grace.
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Oh dear. I’m sorry about the difficult experiences you’ve had to endure. I’m thankful for the community you had to lift you up.