I’ve been fortunate in my life to have found many great communities. Or, perhaps, I should say, to have had many great communities find me. Every where I go, it seems, I find dedicated communities of people who look out for each other, challenge each other, and accept each other.
I was especially reminded of this over the past week. While taking a week off work to support the OPENAIR Circus’ 29th annual performance, I also hosted an old friend from elementary school who was passing through Boston for a time.
Since I moved to Massachusetts 14 years ago, I have to admit I haven’t been great at keeping up with my California friends. But when someone needs a place to crash, they know who to call. Cause that’s how communities work.
It was my 12th year working with the circus. Kids I knew when they were 8 are turning 20. I’ve watched a generation of circus kids grow up and I’m getting to know the generation behind them. Adults my age who were in the circus as kids stopped by to catch the show. Some of their children are in the circus now.
Everyone’s a little off, but that’s okay because…all of us are a little off. That’s how communities work.
A community, I think, is a lot like a large, extended family. Or perhaps I just think that since I’ve got one of those, too.
There’s the distant cousins you don’t actually know but feel a strong familial bond with. There’s the people who – love them as you do – drive you totally crazy. (Just kidding – you know I love you all). There are the eccentrics with delightful problems and the addicts with distressing problems.
There is shared grief and joy, despair and triumph.
And throughout it all, you’re in it together. Exit is always an option, I suppose, but in that not really an option kind of way.
It’s an option to leave a community just like its an option to not show up at the family gathering your mother expects you to attend. Technically, it’s always an option.
People grow, of course. You move and change. Go on to new challenges and opportunities, not always keeping in touch as closely as you might hope.
But community perseveres. Wherever the wind takes them, community members continue to look out for each other, to challenge each other, and to accept each other.
Because that’s what communities do.
I have been fortunate to have found such communities, and all I can hope is that everyone has such spaces.
Places where you can be yourself. Where people can tell you when you’re wrong, challenge you to be your best, and drive you crazy with their habits. Places where, even after the biggest fights, people accept you for who you are.