Friday, October 30, 2015

Belonging Somewhere

I have a theory that all behavior can be sourced to our desire to be part of something outside ourselves. It's only one of our deep-rooted needs, perhaps, but it's connected to everything we do.

I spent the last two days driving through the Great Basin and the Rockies. As we left California, the landscape turned gorgeous: gold grasses, grey trees stretching out barren limbs, and red-brown mountains topped with puffs of wet, silver clouds. At one point, it was so beautiful it nearly made me cry.

I kept thinking over and over, this is where I belong. Out here, where it's stunning, drizzly, grey, glorious. I feel alive here. This is where I belong.

Credit: Jared Tarbell.

Last night we finally reached Denver and now we're ensconced in the old, amazing house of one of my best friends. There's no rush to do anything; with these people, I am at peace. We're just hanging out, talking, eating, laughing, and petting kitties.

Hanging out with these people, with my best friends, feels natural in the way few things ever do. Landing here last night felt like reaching the top of the mountain, the place where your journey is over and you can rest. These are the people I can be myself around. There's no judgment because they understand me, and I understand them--that camaraderie of minds.

This is where I belong.

It's hard to explain when you love people like this. Not just one person, but a whole group of people, who know and love each other too. When you're a part of something that's right, deep, healthy whole--how do you describe friendship like this? We go from laughter that releases every tension you've ever known, to discussions about the ways society needs changing, to asking each other the deep questions about how we're doing and really listening to the answer.

It's rare to find a group like this. I've had best friends, but it's rare to feel a part of a community that I can participate in, that will be there for me, and that I have a place in, always. A place where I belong, in every sense of the word.

This is family.

It's special. I know most people don't find this kind of community. But somehow I found a collection of amazing people who all get along with each other and are as invested in this little family as I am.

I believe in these people. I don't say that idly. They think deeply about everything and with their words, their writing, their action, their caring--their being themselves--they are changing things. That, maybe, is part of why I love them. But mostly it's just them.

C.S. Lewis says that there's something special that happens when a group of people get together. Each individual brings out different things in the people around them. When someone dies or moves or leaves, it's not just them that's gone, but the parts in every other person that only came out when that individual brought it out.

A group really is more than the sum of its parts.

Which is why family like this is so special. Every community gets a spirit to it that is bigger than anyone there, but created a little bit by each of us. Is that where the belonging comes from? Is that why I feel like I'm home?

To me, the words 'home' and 'family' mean comfortable, reliable, safe, warm, open, caring. Belonging means I have people I can go to in order to find these things, and also where I can give these things. Giving is another innate human desire: we want to use our energies to do something worthwhile. Creating a haven where our friends feel they belong is something we love doing.

So belonging is special. Belonging to something like this, something which runs without us and yet also needs us, is something we all want.

With most of the things humans search for--security, power--we're afraid of losing it after we find it. But belonging isn't like that. When you belong, you're not terrified of losing it, because you're a part of the thing. Sure, friendships fall apart, people move away, life goes on, and things change. The family we create isn't always permanent. But it's usually a lot more permanent than anything else.

It feels like everything in my life has changed over the last five years, but my best friends? Not at all. Despite the fact that most of them live at least 1000 miles away.

Thus this is where I belong. These are my people. This is the place that will always make me happy, the people who make me feel at ease. I've found one of those things we all look for, and I never want to take that for granted.

Word count: 806.