Community

by Jon Sullivan - 2023-07-30 - Jonism

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I knew how to be a sociopath. And when that grew too shameful I withdrew and learned to be a hermit. Now hermit is off the table too.

One of the defining traits of being Jon is my skill at being self contained. Depending on no one and nothing. I don't need companions or things or particular states or even things like hope and happiness. Those things are very nice to have. Wonderful even. And living without them is harder. But I don't capital N need them at all. And I've learned through the pain of..... just life..... how to get by 100% fine without them. My 60 years in this universe have seen me contract to a point where food and shelter alone would honestly be enough. An empty life leaves no possibility for people to hurt me. And no possibility for me to say and do things I'll be ashamed of.

But of course there is a price to pay. No matter how good I am at it, an empty life is empty. A barren and lonely life. And as I approach the end, as the years run out, as reality dictates that soon only my legacy will remain, dying lonely and alone feels like a bad choice. Which of course led me to Oregon, and friends, and events, and guests, and tribe. And something I never really understood before - community.

Community. A simple and ageless and ubiquitous concept. One I thought I understood. But much like people offering to help, which I blogged about recently, it's a concept I had zero real appreciation of. And what limited understanding I did have was pointless because being self contained was always the priority and the reality. There was no place for community in my bubble. But in 2023 there no longer is any bubble, no longer any moat, no longer any massive concrete dam I maintain to keep everything out. Well...... The dam has broken, and shit has been flooding in.

I went to a concert yesterday and watched a jam band with 5000 outrageously dressed hippies. 5000 people my bubble was specifically created to...... to what? Keep out? No. More than that. My bubble was to make them not part of my reality.

For emphasis - My bubble was to make them not part of my reality. And now I see the price I paid for that artificial line in the sand that made them not real. Not just hippies, but all communities. Because somehow, and I have trouble even remembering why, being truly part of a community meant I would lose Jon as an individual. Somehow relying on a community would mean I had failed as a person. It's total bullshit. I see that now. Because as I stood among those wonderful folks, sharing the musical magic in front of us, there was no dam and it all flooded in. This flooded in -

"No matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone." - David Whyte

Community. And a journey impossible to accomplish alone. One of the things I've written about here as perhaps the most transformational was meeting strangers (Marilee's friends) who from afar I had considered incredible and wonderful humans for years. And then realizing they knew who I was. These stranger heroes liked me and welcomed me with just an introduction. And it's been a very wild few weeks being welcomed and learning this, new to me, concept. It's a concept I still feel like I don't understand enough to even appreciate it fully. It's a concept that keeps sneaking up on me. Like I've been sleepwalking and I suddenly wake up outside my moat and I'm surrounded by wonderful smiling huggy people who love me and I love them and the reasons the bubble ever existed fade away like a fleeting bad dream.

I can't describe it well. Because I don't have any context for it. Or I'm crazy. My personal theory is that I'm totally insane, but everyone says I'm not.

At the concert I thought about the last time I'd been in that metaphysical space. I suppose it was when I was very young and went to rock concerts with my parents in Golden Gate Park in the 60s, listening to jam bands, surrounded by thousands of happy loving beautiful freaky people. Somewhere in my timeline I let the ugliness of the world overwhelm the happy people. I built walls to keep the ugly out, but I lost the happy people as well. Yesterday I looked out over the crowd, and the walls were gone, and they all loved me, and I loved all of them.

It used to be..... one of the defining traits of being Jon was my skill at being self contained. Depending on no one and nothing. I didn't need companions or things or particular states or even things like hope and happiness. No longer. The world, the people, the magic outside my moat makes the moat itself a selfish and childish idea. So no longer. I return to the world of my childhood, where the good happy beautiful folk are. Where they always were.

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