“So what do you do?”
…is a familiar question I find myself squirming under the pressure of. It is one which I know many people of a well travelled ilk are loathed to hear. There is no right answer to this unimaginatively robotic question, so I have stopped giving one. I am many things and I find myself flirting with such different worlds that the chameleon inside of me is usually a happily entertained one. I could egotistically glorify who I am and what I do but that serves no purpose other than creating a self-servingly false image of myself in the eyes of others. I also have no problem at all with people who are something, there is a part of me which craves that identity and security. I guess my position is that of a man on a journey through an existence of misunderstanding and confusion, who in a vain attempt at clarity feels compelled to inflict his waffling semantics upon those foolish enough to give their time over to it. But for the purpose of this blog, my position is of man attempting to bring community to the noncommunal.
People often make the mistake of believing their opinion is true for all, that despite their beliefs being formed from their own unique experiences, they somehow cannot see how others may view the world in a different way. The same works the other way around; with one person’s opinion being formed with little substance from nothing at all. All I can do is give my opinion of communal life, one formed through insight and ignorance, including what in reality is a very limited experience of community in it’s stereotypically purest form.
I was asked recently what I believed in, and after a blank moment or two I forced out a few vomit inducingly thoughtless ideas about being good to people and being true to the moment. I had been able to come up with nothing bar the obvious that people know and regurgitate but never really understand, and certainly don’t live. It bothered me enough that I found myself mulling over this question of my beliefs later that evening. What disturbed me most was that I couldn’t think of anything that I truly believed in, until I remembered the idea of impermanence. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in anything, more that what I have believed in over the years has changed shape and morphed so often I don’t feel comfortable boxing myself in as anything anymore. There is a word for this apparently but then I would be boxing myself in with a tag; can you really say you permanently believe in impermanence. The point is I have learnt this present incumbent of myself, and as I’ll probably learn another one; it would be wise of you not to take these words as truth. Take it more as a conversation with a stranger on your own road through life.
I certainly wasn’t born with any idea of community and although I viewed everyone else’s food as communal while at university, it wasn’t until I really went travelling that I was introduced to the idea that as a group we are stronger. I cannot deny that I didn’t fall in love at first with the romantic image of being a traveller. The idea of the hardship, the endurance and pushing myself beyond the realms of most peoples’ comfort sounded absolutely fantastic and in truth it kind of was. As I pushed further, flirting with the world of homeless-traveller-with-nothing; I also became much more aware of how important it is to have other people around me, to support me and for me to support them. I have had a few ‘families’ on my travels and these are groups of people who came together and survived as one unit. There were obviously times when this way of life could, and still does, mentally drain you. We all have our own issues and it can be hard enough just dealing with those; let alone other peoples’. But this is the moment when you understand the importance of not just taking but both giving back and knowing when to find time for yourself. I do feel genuinely privileged to have experienced these moments though, to be in a place and time when everyone comes together and allows themselves to work as one. We have all experienced this and for many this camaraderie comes in the shape of a football team or maybe a good work group, but in these we always return to our individual lives at the end of the day. To live this takes it a step further, and in living it I feel I understand much more. The truth is, human beings are communal animals and are at their strongest when in a group; it is not coincidental that we see the degradation of society at the same time as we are fed the cult of the individual.
I would love to give regular insights into my experience of fixed communities, but I am not in one and have only ever passed through them. Where I am now is anyone’s guess, even I’m not completely sure. What I do know though is that I am taking my understanding and experience of communal living and letting people know there is an alternative. If we can’t change the world but can only be true to ourselves, I hope my contributions here can be about spreading a way of life I have come to view as inevitable for the future of our own species. I want to help people but I also understand there will always be an element of self-preservation. Humanity may have lost it’s way, and my belief is that the populace won’t save themselves until forced to. It would be nice though to think we can convince a few people to come together, to learn to live in harmony with each other; before harmony is forced upon them.
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