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Published: August 27th 2020
Sally: Here's some sober self-reflection: As we search for "property" which means looking at the "house" and the "land" and the "access" and the "water rights" and the orientation of the property to allow for, or prevent, successful winter greenhouse and other vegetative food production, there is also the matter of "the community."
One could find the absolute and affordable ideals for house and land, etc. and never know the nature of the people who live in proximity, both close-in neighbors and also one's "town," where we'll buy groceries and building supplies and stuff. The more we risk reaching out with some honest comment or question, the more sober and humble I feel. I've been saddled with patterns as a self-protective psycho-snob for much of my adult life. I've found it easiest to risk vulnerable connection with people I have met in trainings or workshops or in my office or in a structured group of one sort or another that I've been part of, and often started, in the past.
This tendency probably comes from having been reared in a bit of a cult as a Christian Scientist. There was a sense in my childhood that "we" Christian Scientists were onto The Truth and everyone else was living in "error." Luckily it wasn't a very judgmental religion in terms of sentencing those other people living in "error" as bad or sinful. We didn't regarded them that way. They were just regarded as not knowing the "truth."
As I write this I can feel my kids nodding, and maybe shaking their heads a bit. When I turned forty a close friend gave me a T-shirt that said "I'm not arrogant. It's just that I'm always right." This affliction of needing to know and to be steeped in the "Truth" has been something I've worked consciously to soften if not shed for probably 25 years. It's also one of those "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" situations. The baby of course, the seeking to know and speak and live in greater and greater amounts of truth is nothing I want to throw out. But I'd like to rid myself of the ego part that gets wrapped up in any sense of superior self identification, in that seeking and desire to know. Because, what I really want is to genuinely connect with people, to care about them and sense that they care about me.
An example: We got up yesterday morning and I went to the funky motel breakfast room to get some hot brown liquid and write in my journal while Tim woke up and took a shower. Outside the front door of the motel there was a small gathering of people drinking that same hot brown liquid from little styrofoam cups and, when they realized the coffee was out they were kind and made sure to get another pot going and see to it that I had enough coffee. They were likely by and large not college educated but that didn't hamper their ability to and just generally be decently human. And in response to that "decent humanity," a part of me felt so lonely in this search process, and so raw and vulnerable from not having had sufficient sleep, I almost went out to join the coffee group. I thought about going out and saying "Can I join you?" and knowing they would say "Sure." And just the thought made my eyes well up. And I thought "I've been such a snob. This Montana adventure into small town life may cure me of that."
Another example: Last night we had dinner at the Two Bit Saloon in Whitehall. After the waitress had served our food she asked if there was anything else she could get us. I said, "If you have a minute I'd love to know what you really love about Whitehall and what you don't love so much about it." She seemed to be pleased at my question and took a moment. She said "Well, it's probably the same thing! It's a small town and I've been here my whole life and I love the mountains." And I egged her on a bit, "So you really belong here but....everyone knows your business?" And she laughed and said "My mom works at the drug store and she's lived here since she was five. So people will come up to me and say 'I know who you are. I know your mother.' And these are people I don't really know." The three of us sat in that shared experience of wanting to be known and yet also wanting to be seen as different from our families. It was a sweet moment.
Tim pointed out last night that in the last 17 years we have lived in 7 different houses. And 5 different towns, and 3 different states. This, after letting go of living "in community" at Blue Heron Farm where I had thought I would live the rest of my life. And now we are looking at the possibility of house #8, town #6 and state #4. Another place, another home, another community, another town, another state. I guess, like it or not, I'm polishing off the rough edges of needing to have and to be around people who are "like me." I'm opening up to just being, around, people. And figuring out how to have genuine and sweet connections, just as people. That's what I want. Maybe it will be easier than I have previously thought. Maybe that is the truth I've been most wanting to discover and live into.
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