“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a village, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” -Jane Howard
I built my life around a community that I belong to, and like most things in life, now I am often overcome by the power of my intention. Belonging is essential and also exacts a cost. Sometimes the cost feels excessive; sometimes the belonging is everything. The key is being able to hold them both simultaneously, even when one or the other threatens to overwhelm. The practice is not unlike holding what is annoying and loveable about the people in our lives.
It is easy to get lost on one side or the other. Like tonight when my full clan descended into the small travel head quarters at Embassy Suites. The kids aren’t kids anymore and it isn’t just their physical size that takes up so much room. They each have very distinct personalities, behavioral ticks, emotional struggles and a unique sense of humor. Mostly we live in peace together, but it is tenuous. One person’s momentary bad mood can easily be misinterpreted and before long an argument erupts out of nowhere.
Our boundaries and sense of personal distance is habitual at home. We know where and when we can enter each others’ space and there is usually room left over. But here in the confines of a double suite, there is barely room to walk. Trying to direct these multiple personalities is like herding cats. There is no direction but surrender .
Surrender can either be letting go or learning to embrace. I am going for the path of largess these days. I am trying to embrace the out-of-control, immediacy of having my once sweet little kids near me as they grow into their adult selves one precarious day at a time. Even when I want to run screaming from the room, my urge to relate and build my village always seems to win.
I say it over and over again, some days to convince myself, some days because I know it like I know my heart beats: at the end of my days, this surrender and loving embrace of these people will be all that I will have to hold onto.