Sunday, June 24, 2012

You need a village

The homestead
"You need a village, if only for the pleasure of leaving it. A village means that you are not alone, knowing that in the people, the trees, the earth, there is something that belongs to you, waiting for you when you are not there." ~ Casare Pavese

It's not a small thing to have a village. A place from which to go. They say that home is where your story begins and I think that's true. 

This weekend, I attended a party with my village. Generations of family friends all in one place. It was officially a reunion weekend. I attended my 30th high school reunion and my sister had her 25th. But at this party, there were people who graduated with my mother's class as well as grown-up kids I used to babysit and everyone in between. In my village, many of my friends' parents were in school with my parents, and for couple of families, even our grandparents went to school together. 

The Homestead, II
I saw my sister for the first time in two years. We connected with a boy who moved away in 7th grade - our families were very close when they moved away to North Carolina. We haven't seen each other in 35 years. Another dear friend came back home - I haven't seen her in more than 30 years. And of course, I had a heart to heart with the boy in my class who has been my trusted friend since nursery school.

It's hard to explain how overwhelming this is. It really felt like a dream, as if a voice would break through the music on the jukebox at the party and say, "Laura Nelson - This is YOUR Life!"  Or like Dorothy waking up from her dream, and seeing Auntie Em and Toto, and the hired men.... "Oh, and you were there, and so were you! You were all there!"

The old teenagers from the class of '82 can see 50 from where we are. We are parents and grandparents. We are working full time and we are retired. We are successful and we are struggling. We never left our hometown and we live on each coast. What brings us together are shared experiences throughout our childhood in our hometown. And that's what we all have in common, what brings us back together every five years... to check in, to reconnect, to share stories of glory days, and remember those who are no longer with us. We have our village. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Finding the hidden within

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. - e.e. cummings

I read this quote this morning and thought how fortunate I am to be able to actually have a list of names... and memories of people whose names I will never know. People who have who have touched me deeply and revealed qualities and helped push away the barriers and fears for me. It's a special kind of love I have for those friends and strangers. 

However, I don't think this is a one-time job. I think that throughout our lives we find ourselves in need of revelation and wonder about ourselves. And, along the way, there are people who touch that hidden part of us. For me, it sometimes is a total stranger. And, sometimes, it is an act between others that we witness that changes us. 

There is a story about elephants and I'm going to say it is a story because I don't know if it is true. When elephants are babies, they are tied to a small tree to keep them from roaming. As the elephant grows, it can still be tied to a small tree. Even as adults, they can be tied to small trees, even though the elephant would not have to exert much force to pull the tree right out of the ground. The "moral of the story" would be that the elephants learn that when they have that rope or chain around their ankle, they aren't strong enough to do what they could easily do off the leash, as it were... Do you have such preconceived ideas about things what you are and are not able to do? And most importantly, have you ever tried? Fear of failing, fear of succeeding... there's another post for another time...

Just as important as knowing who reveals your true self to you, is the idea that you are capable of revealing the beauty of another. It may seem hard to believe this, but every person has something valuable, worthy, and unique inside of them.  Yes, the stupid people at work, the annoying boy in the third row, even the woman in the line at the grocery store who's making a huge scene....Maybe they just need you to hold up the mirror and show them how remarkable they are. Chances are, there is someone you will cross paths with today who needs you to reveal to them what is deep inside.