New Year is a time to think back and reflect, as much as it is a time to create resolutions. It goes hand in hand. Because without looking backwards, we may not move forward.
I looked at my resolutions list:
Take more time to bake and cook
Learn to knit
Spend less time with my laptop and more time with friends
and realised they had a common theme: develop a community.
Nowadays, we tend to live away from our roaming grounds of childhood and the intimate friends that have known us as youngsters. We don?t always have the guaranteed community found through religion or from living in a small town, or found in a Cheers bar where everybody knows your name.
Prior to New Year, I evaluated how I spend my time compared to how I would if I was still around those friends who have known me for years. The simple answer was, differently. Friendships are like candles. You have the slow burning ones that you know will glow eternally, regardless of geographic location or distance. Then you have the regular ones that are blown out dramatically or die out naturally, often leaving us isolated.
While friendships come and go, communities are always alive, ever evolving and adapting, and hardier because they involve more than a pair of individuals. They help us connect to time, utilising true skills and virtues of patience and compassion. They are connected to a location and to a set of common interests and goals, helping us to create true, supportive social networks. Not online networks like the mammoth facebook communities: groups get far too complicated and don?t work above 150, as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in his bestseller, The Tipping Point, not to mention those that are abstract. As social beings, we can?t be isolated. I think real people help us to connect and grow far more than any book or television programme.
As Dan Buettner points out in his 2009 TED talk, How to live to be 100+, communities can safeguard against the natural deterioration of our health, that in Okinawa – where life expectancy is above average – you are born into a half dozen friendship groups called Moai who you can share a fulfilled life with.
This explains why I made four cakes on Saturday and found myself icing them at 10am on Sunday. I took these cakes to an event that was arranged by a friend?s friends in the advent of new motherhood. Warmly huddled in a group spanning a wide age range, within an afternoon I was given some fantastically wise gardening tips that cannot be found in my beginner gardening books. I found myself planning a skill-share with someone I had just met who promised to teach me to knit in return for a few baking lessons! Another lady offered to professionally cut my hair for me. Communities help us to thrive because we can share skills without over-reliance on any one individual. I was beaming on the journey home.
What are your slow resolutions? Are they connected to community involvement or creation? What makes community special to you? jorg&olif would love to hear your thoughts!