Reverb13 Day 13: Community. (Lack thereof.)
In 2014, how could you explore what community means to you? Where might the alchemy be?
The whole concept of community is a tricky one for me to discuss and write about.
Community has come up in previous Reverbs. I even mentioned it this very month in a previous post from this year’s Reverb. It also comes up on message boards and in articles I read about various subjects. I hear the stories of friends of mine and the support they get from their communities, and how much it means to them. The building of community is considered crucial to everything from our success in any field, our personal happiness and even our very health. Everywhere one looks, the concept of community is not far behind.
I can only say now what I have previously said when the subject of community comes up; I do not feel that I am a member of any solid, supportive community, despite previous best efforts.
As I have said, projects and endeavors I have undertaken in the past few years have been met with almost zero interest, support, or assistance from the relevant community. For whatever reasons I simply don’t inspire communities to be a part of my life and my work, and that goes for many online forums as well.
For you network-minded millennial who may be reading, I will cut off your first question by stating that yes, I have over the years attempted to improve communities by offering myself to same. I’ve invested time, attention, energy, once in a great while money in the activities, plans, visions, projects and aspirations of various communities as a whole, and individuals within those communities. I still support the notion of doing so, when the investment yields some kind of eventual return.
But truly I don’t do that as much as I used to, because in a vast majority of the cases, that engagement has been one way.
If you read any of the above posts I have linked to, you’ll find that I have never been certain why I lack community. I consider various different possibilities, such as the fact that I am not charismatic, or handsome, or rich. But then I think of plenty examples of people who are also lacking in all of those qualities and still inspire certain loyalties. In other words, I may not be a pleasant fellow as defined by most in society, but being pleasant is obviously not a prerequisite to community success. (I maintain I am in fact a pleasant person much of the time, however.)
May greatest pains in the last five years have dealt most often with being rejected by a community to which I thought I was attached. At least I’ve learned, hopefully, to never again assume I am part of a community.
But the attempts go on. I started an introvert group this year. I’m helping to manage a small arts center-to build a community there. (Though a lot of people I know already are involved.) I continue to explore the web for message boards and blogs that might welcome me into their community. I engage interesting people on Twitter in hopes of starting conversations or making connections.
Yet I can’t deny that over the last year or two, I am trending more and more away from community. It sounds counterproductive in a sense, and maybe it is, I don’t know. I only know that as communities continue to hold me at arms length, and I remain unable to infiltrate them, the appeal of doing things that require only myself increases. I write. I will probably self-publish my fiction, so I don’t have to convince some overworked agent that my novel will put her kid through college. I’m writing a one-man stage play, (and have ideas for several others) so I will not have to rely on people wanting to join me in my productions. (Getting them to come see them remains a problem, but that’s another post.)
I’m not a hermit. I’m not a misanthrope or an isolationist. One of the few lines written by John Dunne that I like is “No man is an island,” and I agree with that. But at the same time, I can’t continue to look for or build community, when community doesn’t want me. That’s a waste of resources better spent elsewhere. I’ll create what I can without any help, and engage the individual friends I have when I can. (Distance is an issue with most of my friends more than anything else.) But community? Alchemy? I would be lying to my readers if I were t0 pretend I had a true answer to this prompt.