Artist, Writer, Woman, Mother, Healer, Teacher, Biohacker, Gardener, Friend, Entrepreneur
Don’t be a deer in the headlights. They freeze. They stop. They get hit by life’s most awful moments with a deep and resounding icky thump. In my contact form I ask the question, “What can I shine the light on for you?”. Some of the answers have surprised me. Left me with eyes wider open than I would have imagined, but so far there has been one common thread that leaves me peaceful and certain and knowing that I can help. That word that is often left in that contact field is community.
People want more community. This is one thing I know about because I have spent the last couple years cultivating it. It’s no longer something I approach with surprise like I use to. You see, I know the secret to creating community and it boils down to three simple questions you need to ask yourself:
1. What do I have to give?
2. How am I going to give it?
3. Who, and what, will I give it to?
That giving is the core of community. It is the secret stuff that binds. Some people think that community is about satisfying a personal need or lack. Some people think community is about sharing a common goal. Some people think community is about being accepted for who you are. These things can all be true, but that community will not hold together, will not excel unless it is founded on an intentional giving. Otherwise the community just disintegrates when the need, goal or acceptance dissipates. Lasting community is about practice, and intentionally giving with an open heart and no expectation of return is something I think we all could shine a bit more light through doing.
Community doesn’t just come to you. You have to create it, you have to nurture it, grow it and you have to show up for it mindfully with a spirit of giving. Sure, you can plug into an existing community. Find a church that shares your faith, or a support group that shares your issues, an artist group that shares your choice of creative materials or a writing club that shares your publishing format but if you do not give of yourself then there is no actual communing there are just a bunch of people bouncing around carrying the same label. Community is about both give and take, but I have found that if you always approach it with the question “What do I have to give?” then the taking becomes reciprocity and that is a much better way to live.
A deer alone may freeze, be prey to that icky thump. However, most deer have learned that they thrive in a community. This type of herd mentality isn’t a bad thing. It’s a simple survival mechanism, a way to enhance quality of life. I’ve seen deer stop, freeze in the headlights and have another gently nudge it back from the light that is too bright so they can bound off to safety again. They have each other’s backs.
I’ve seen that giving in animals and wonder why is this simple thing so hard for people to understand, embrace, express in their lives? Why do so many feel a lack of community when it is so simple to find, and nourish and as common sense as pushing your loved one out from in front of the lights of an oncoming car? I wonder why it took me so many years to discover that the community was there waiting for me, I just had to be a part of it through giving of myself and not expecting it to magically just embrace and take me into it’s folds.
Think about it – what do you have to give? It doesn’t have to be life and death, but some day it might be. If you get in the practice of giving, you will be prepared when your community puts out a call that you have the time, energy and ability to give to. They will also be there for you when you need help in getting away from the traps that bind you to lack of moving forward. Trust me. I know. They’ve had my back.
I encourage you to avoid the icky thump as long as you can. Eventually it will hit you because life is like that. When you make giving a practice you do intentionally, there is a community there to help when you need it for life’s little surprises. You will also find that as you practice more giving, your community grows, reciprocity grows and the things that seemed secret and unknown become mysteries that you understand and can share with a sense of peace and calm and certainty no matter what comes your way. The light can blind, or the light can illuminate – it all matters how you look at it. Choose wisely.