I think there is something in my DNA that loves to break type casts. I think it might have started when a family member lost their farm for housing a portion of the Underground Railroad many years ago.
I think there is a wrestling in my mind that wants to struggle against the powers that be. Often it can come off that I like dramatics or just enjoy chaos, but I am finding a greater purppose, I was born to rage against injustice.
I am figuring out as I age that raging can be actually be healthy. Not in the way of raising blood pressures and screaming, but in the way of helping people see that others are out that suffering exists and what they can do about it.
It happens in different places, today, it happened in a Jiffy Lube waiting room. I was talking with a woman and we started to discuss affordable housing in our neighborhood. She lives a few miles away from me, but we both have seen the property values skyrocket in our neighborhoods. We talked about the challenges there are for affordable housing. She is a retail store manager and stated if she had to find another place right now, she would have to live at least thirty minutes away. We did not solve the situation in the waiting room, but we both left feeling that someone else sees and wants to change an issue in our city. I believe the most gigantic changes in history started with conversations much like this.
I used to think it was better to just talk about trivial things when I meet a stranger, but I now realize I only have so much time, so I often lead with topics that really matter to me. It has lead me to some interesting viewpoints and a greater appreciation for my city. I constantly find people who really care about their neighbors, very deeply care for their neighbors. I am amazed at how many times I thought I was right about an issue, when I saw it from other viewpoints, I changed my position drastically. I learned to empathize with me people not like myself.
I go to many places that many of my neighbors would never darken the door of. I love to get into a lot of places that make me uncomfortable. My doctor serves mostly Medicaid patients who are very poor and struggling to make ends meet often. I like to shop in places where I rub elbows with other people who are much different than me. It stretches me, it challenges me and it reminds me that there is something that goes deep beneath the veneer of my seemingly wealthy city. There are many issues that we, who have quite a bit, stay blind to.
I have visited homeless camps, been in “dangerous” neighborhoods, and been in a few places I was not sure I would come out of alive, but it has made me a much different person. “Therefore by the grace of God, go I”, I often think. I am only a few steps away from being where some of the people are, but I also realize that they are many steps ahead of me in other areas. When you get away from a capitalistic mindset that states, financial success = happy life, which many people know is a lie yet they strive to be wealthy and “independent”. I have given up on the idea of my independence and know that I need other people and they need me (often they don’t even know it yet).
This exhibits itself more and more at a monthly dinner gathering we have. I find that I miss the people who come together regularly to have dinner and conversation in between our meetings. We have began to count on each other in much deeper ways as we just spend time together and get to know each other. Community is a beautiful thing, but it is hard to cultivate without commitment. Aren’t most things difficult to grow without commitment?
I see the power of the rhythms being our life. Rhythms that interlope with people that encourage and challenge us to be more than what we were, when our time began. Community is beautiful that way, I never feel alone or like I could not contact someone to talk. We may not believe the same way, but we care enough about each other to support each other.
I used to balk at the idea of going to social gatherings a lot more, now I am slowly learning to embrace it as a chance to change. A chance to learn something new and to teach someone else something new. To find a new avenue towards learning and peacefulness.
I challenge you today to start a weekly or monthly flow of connecting with others that will stretch you a bit.
Here are a few resources to help you!
Has groups under a section entitled Community. You can find a lot of nice people through these ads, of course with anything be wary of where you are meeting, etc…
Meetup is a great app/website for meeting people with similar interests
My wife and I have a friend who set out in 2017 to volunteer at all kinds of organizations, while she has been doing that she has had so many opportunities to connect with other people. You can follow her posts here!