I’ve gone back and forth about posting this, but ultimately I’m going to, mostly because writing it helps me get these thoughts into my awareness. I have been focusing a lot, a lot-a lot, on humanity, on human community, on human relationships, this year. I hadn’t realized quite how much, until a chance throw-away comment that had little to nothing to do with me personally, was made, and this realization followed quickly on its heels, to slap my eyes open. I face it without value-judgment, because in the light of the past year, it only makes sense. I’ve focused on my blood family, both the then-dying and the remaining kin, because death is hard, because losing parents is hard, because I love my mother, my brother, my niece and nephews, my aunt and uncle, my cousins. Some of the focus has been good — I’ve reconnected with family members of whom I am fond; some of the focus has been hard. It hasn’t even been two months yet since my grandmother died. The thought of it, when it catches me up, floors me, though I can hold it together if I don’t think of my mother. I don’t worry about her dying, I simply have to think of her having lost her mother and I’m completely undone.
I’ve toyed with getting involved more in community here in the city. I’ve thought about going to the UU church, about attending one of the Buddhist temples, about getting involved with CUUPs. I’ve focused on reading theological and philosophical books, modern and ancient, and have immersed myself in humanity. I’ve gone back and forth with the idea of joining ADF, mostly for study structure but also for an expanded sense of community. I’ve found myself missing the community that we had back east, both non-religious and religious community.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve thought about such things. Any long time readers will know that I go back and forth with my wanting to be around like-minded people. And, I do think that there’s something to be said for having a physical community that will rally around you in times of need, and around whom you can rally, offering support and aid. I can see the desire to wanting to know your neighbors, and from time to time, it’s a want that I share.
And then, of course, sanity reestablishes itself. I know three of my neighbors on a first name basis (and, it being me, I know almost all of the dogs and some of the cats on first name basis, too, and knew them first). I know more of them (the humans) on sight. I don’t want daily interaction with people I barely know, and I don’t really want to join groups and make new friends, because I have enough friends, dear friends with whom I do not converse enough, thanks to time zones, life, and obligations.
What I realized, and keep having to re-realize, is that I want an immediate family made up of my closest friends. I want them as my neighbors, and my community, and — and here’s where I keep tripping up — I want them here. I want them by me.
I have human contact on a regular basis, because I work a day job full time outside of the home. I acknowledge that the ability to cultivate compassion is important to me, for my own reasons (not the least bit altruistic, but I think altruism is over-rated). I don’t need or even really want it in my spiritual life. And, I knew this, I’ve known this, I adore our semi-secluded lifestyle for this very reason. But in this year of focusing on humans, on human death, on my extended human family, on previously-human spirits, I’ve a little bit lost focus on the not-human, never-been-human creatures that make up my extended family. Worse, the most humbling bit of this whole revelation for me has been that, when approaching Poseidon in worship, I’ve made Him into a human. Oh, obviously not really. Ours is a very casual, very laid-back relationship. There’s playfulness and banter and heaps and heaps of affection and gratitude, on my end. I approach Him with due reverence, but after so long of such an intimate relationship, there is a large degree of comfort/security/safety. I am more me, before Him, than I am at any other time. So I don’t worry about His judging me and finding me lacking, or being offended by anything I say or think or do, or don’t do. I won’t even say that I’ve lost my sense of awe, because I haven’t done that. But there was some sort of shifting change, where I dismissed/stopped being aware of His Otherness. Even that’s not right, because I never forget Who and What He is. But, in all this familial focus, and this compassion focus, and this humility focus, and what-if-community focus, it was easy to lose awareness of the not-human-concerns.
I’m failing to say this accurately, and I’m sharing mostly because, well. Strip me back to the bone, right? Especially when I reach places like this, where I need a jarring slap out of nowhere to realize that what I’m doing isn’t being true to myself, my path, my practice.
Aaaaaaand this has been sitting in draft form for days, waiting for me to neaten it up. It’s not gonna happen. It is what it is.
In other news, check out Beth’s write up of our Ewemeolc festival, complete with pictures.