27 August 2005
where do you belong?
Biking back from yoga this morning, I was struck by how new my surroundings felt and looked. That’s what you get after an hour & a half of twisting your body into unnatural positions and trying to “breathe through your flanks.” LOL. Oxygen deprivation! But as new as everything looked, after four years of living here it also all looked very familiar. It was rather like experiencing my existence from a third point of view: I knew that this part of my route wound along the canal, this section cut through a busier section of town, here is the railroad underpass, etc; but it was also all seen with a fresh gaze. I stopped at my favorite health food store and went through the process of selecting and purchasing a few items, but at the same time I was deeply remembering selecting and purchasing items in a health food store many years ago in Ellsworth, and of shopping in a ‘hippie’ store in Machias, and so on. Layers of experience laying on top and under my current experience, each transparent to the other.

It was cool, and I wasn’t on drugs.

So anyway, this got me thinking “Where do I belong?” I sometimes wonder where my life veered off the main path and became what it is today – I suspect I’m not the only one who’s had this feeling (am I?) and sometimes I wonder if I’m really where I’m supposed to be. An American (and I think of my nationality the way a Catholic who never goes to church might view her religion) living permanently in Europe, going through my ‘outside’ life using a different language, working in a technical field even though I was considered quite the tree-hugger in my youth … well, I’m beginning to ramble and you probably get the idea. I don’t seem to fit. Yet I have friends and interests and what I consider a pretty rich life.

So what’s my position in my community? I don’t honestly feel I have a niche here in Gouda even though I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else. I don’t “do” politics, I don’t have very many friends who live here in the vicinity, I don’t attend a church. Well, what is community, anyway? Curious, I looked it up and Wikipedia defines it as “an amalgamation of living things that share an environment. What characterizes a community is sharing and interaction in any number of ways. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs and a multitude of other conditions may be present and common … but the definitive driver of community is that all individual subjects in the mix have something in common.”

The Merriam-Webster definition also includes geographical location as a part of community “the people with common interests living in a particular area”.

So I feel I’ve struck out on finding my place in a physical community, based on the going definition. Why my general sense of well-being, then?

It must have to do with a sense of belonging, a sense that exceeds my physical limitation. I belong to groups of stitchers, hand crafters, mothers, Mainers, sinus sufferers, pet owners, home owners, failed gardeners, and much more. We may never meet face-to-face but we’re here and we can connect. We can transcend the physical limitations placed on us. We can be “here” and “there” at the same time. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

I’ll close for now with a related quote by Phyllis George I turned up in a Google search on belonging:
"Crafts make us feel rooted, give us a sense of belonging and connect us with our history. Our ancestors used to create these crafts out of necessity, and now we do them for fun, to make money and to express ourselves."
Phyllis George

PS: I promise some stitchy stuff in the next posting! LOL
posted by mainely stitching at 1:20 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ |