It’s Thursday night. Farming was yesterday and I have just finished a day in my Psychology practice. It’s 9pm. Rachel has gone off to meditate and I am here writing. I started to write last night when I came home and then the computer froze so I lost everything I had written. They were just notes, and somehow it felt okay. It caused me to reflect on what I might need or want to write instead. I didn’t come up with anything and fell asleep.
So I sit here in front of my computer tonight still unsure what to write, but trusting something will come. Of course, yesterday was Farming Day…however this week it was just me (Michelle), as Rachel really needed a day off to catch up with herself. Despite feeling a little tired, I was still keen as mustard to go up for the day.
Upon arriving I was greeted by all the usual suspects, plus a few new ones. Friends of the farm, folk who had been away, travelling or living overseas, and had returned to say hello or had come to help out again. I find all the folk I meet at the farm are very warm, grounded and welcoming. There’s a realness to them that I haven’t seen in many places. IThey are also a really generous bunch; their hearts are open, and they want to share themselves and whatever they have with each other. I love being there each week, just for the opportunity to hang out and get to know each of these wonderful individuals more deeply. I feel myself opening up here in ways that I haven’t for years, perhaps since uni or high school days.
Ah, this is why I had to start this post again – because its the topic of ‘Community’ that really wants to be addressed, not an update on what we planted or weeded this week.
What is community? My personal definition, just off the top of my head? Hmmm, any bunch of people that you belong to in some way. My school cohort – that’s a community of sorts, although 20 years on, I see very little of that crowd. My family of origin, that a very intimate community in my life, as it is for most of us, whether we get along or not. Thankfully, I get along very well with my family. They are my blood and they know and accept me in ways no-one else ever will. That’s special and worth fighting for in my eyes (although I know sometimes we have to walk away from toxic families)…
Then there are the communities that we choose, when we are big enough and beautiful enough to decide for ourselves where we want to belong. Our partners, our friends, even our pets fit into this category. Over my life, I have belonged to many communities and what I have wanted and needed has changed dramatically over the years. Furthermore, I can honestly say that what I have been able to offer to community has also varied greatly. Sometimes, not much; sometimes a lot.
Nowadays, I have really come to understand the value of community in my life. I see how integral it is to health, well-being and a sustainable lifestyle. I feel deeply that we cannot exist alone. We need each other to grow and to become; we live more fully when we live within community. Sure, we may have more fights and arguments than when alone. No community is harmonious at all times. But if we allow them to do so, the fights, the chaos, the disharmony, will take us more deeply into knowing ourselves and being human. If we accept the ups and the downs and commit to each other through them all, I know this is when miraculous things can happen. “What kind of miracles?”, I hear you ask…
I reckon communities are miraculous because we get so much more done when we do it together; and we have loads more fun doing anything when we do it together; and we get to experience the same event from numerous other perspectives, through the eyes of others, thus expanding our horizons and deepening our experience of life. I reckon communities are miraculous because we can fall over, stop, get sick, take a break…and the community keeps ticking. It needs each of us but doesn’t depend on any one of us individually. Like this week, when Rachel took the day off to care for her needs, the community still continued on… Of course, she was missed by everyone, but everything was attended to regardless. This takes the pressure off the individual…
I think Rachel and I have both being very good at doing things alone…this grew out of out of necessity for us both, and from childhood we learned to be highly independent, over-achieving, self-sustaining individuals. When we came together we butted heads a bit, because we were both so stubborn and used to doing everything for ourselves. But we loved one another, and after some hard work, and lots of late night talking, we have learned to really work together. Of course Harry, is a significant part of this growth in us too! He has taught us so much, he supports us each in numerous ways, makes us laugh out loud a lot and brings meaning and presence into our lives.
And actually, not long before we started going farming, Harry joined his own little community, at Dog Safari… So, as is often the case, Harry leads us into a new phase of things by doing it first!! He is also learning that it is important and fun to belong to a community.
Anyway, together we have found ‘family’. And now we are ready, as a family, to reach out and connect with other families, and create ‘community’. I think that’s a big difference this time: I don’t feel like I am joining a pre-existing community, I feel like I am co-creating one.
“A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living”