Community is a buzz word I hear about as much as I hear the word purpose. Everyone is talking about it, using it in their vocabulary, but I am not sure the awareness is truly there to understand what community is.
I learned through hardship and I learned through bliss what community is and is not. Many people think community is everyone being alike or living together. Some communities are so caught up with keeping with the Jones' that everyone is miserable. Some communities are towns or subdivisions. But that is not what I beleive community is.
I am going to share the positive aspects of community that may uplift others, because when a community flows as it should, it is really awesome.
Living in Jackson, I was able to experience community in a whole new way. I was the introvert, sometimes shy one, that liked to be in the forest alone to study, or take hikes with my kids. But even introverts love to be with their friends and loved ones quite often.
I was the herbalist, my closest friends were herbalists, teachers, singers, service workers, mothers, wives, business owners, cleaning people, drummers, massage workers, restaurant owners, appliance repair, computer people, bus drivers, gardeners, cooks, doctors, musicians, psychologists, farmers, writers, health care workers, etc.... we were all different people. Most were married, had decent homes. Some did not have children. A few were single mom's or single men or women. I had 7 kids and single. I owned 2 businesses and did other jobs as well at the time. Sometimes I was in over my head, and made a huge mistake by not reaching out to ask for help in crisis, which I paid for. Because community is there for each other. There is no expectation to be a certain way, to dress a certain way, to speak a certain way. Many of us have a difference in our spiritual beliefs. In my closest circle of friends, we liked each other. As we grew to know each other more intimately, we loved each other. We all brought what we could to the table with our unique talents, gifts and education. We went camping together. Sometimes the dad's or male friends would take my children on the kayak, or shoot bow and arrows, because I was husbandless and did not have those things. I was not looked down upon. They stepped in to reach out to my kids in human nature, with kindness and real desire. It was not a show or ego. That is the type of people that came into my community out of loving relationships. There were times I was exhausted, and if I were to get invited somewhere are really needed down time, my friends would offer to take my kids to the rodeo, or camping, or dinner...whatever...so I could rest or just take a bath and "be".
If I was financially struggling, I had no lack of basic needs. If my car was down, I could get a ride. If I had a hard time stopping my workload from controlling my life, my people would step in and persuade me to take a break and play a little. If we needed clothes, people pulled together to see what they or their children had outgrown. Once, a lady I only knew from taking my daughter to the bus stop let me know that if the power ever went out in winter, that she had a woodstove and that we were welcome to come in an emergency. And thinking of that, with the brutal winters in Wyoming, the power never goes out. Pretty amazing.
Some people have jobs in Jackson to rescue people lost in the wilderness, or to set off avalanches before it could endanger people. If a stranger is stuck in a snow bank, someone will pull them out. If the kids need Christmas items, groups of wealthy people give to those kids so they have a Christmas and can have a good memory with their struggling parents.
When my family goes into the store, even when my energetic daughter runs around a bit, people in the store talk to her and make her feel loved. That takes alot of stress of a tired mother.
I was recently here for health care. And this was one thing I have tried to explain people that most do not even understand how it can work. The community of people have grown to know my family and I. People know, I have had to take care of myself and my kids for many years, and that I have alot of kids. They see how hard I work and what I have been through. They know, I cannot afford self care, so I put myself last. And they know, by putting myself last, I can get the sickest of all in time trying to endure so much, and not spend money.
I have personally been blessed for years here with bartering for my healthcare. I am older and have overcome cancer so I have issues that need addressed. People love my work so they trade with me for massage, counseling, physcian care. This leaves me money to buy my prescriptions, supplements, or needs THEY WANT ME TO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF!!! and they help me to do that. I have had several health care appointments on my trip this time. Because my community cares so much about my family and I, as I care for them too, all my appointments were fulfilled. I saw one of my doctors this week and I always bring him soap. Well, I only had a couple bars left to trade, and I insisted he charge me because I had made enough money while here to pay for my appointment. He charged me $20 because of my insistance and told me, "I knew you would be back":) Keeping in mind, I came here with less than $50, I have eaten well, saw my health care people, have had fun, had counsel, had love and support, cried tears, and laughed fiercely. My friends knew I needed loving care and took care of me, and I was also able to work or sell my work while here.
Community comes together with a second nature that things flow in our relationships by what we each can do.
I share that from my own needs being met, but also it works both ways. I have helped clean with a friend on a time crunch, have done errand running while I was out, and one day a friend had a crisis and was in tears, so I ran over to her house to comfort her.
And the greatest part of functioning in a community, is you still live your own life. We each do what we are called to do, what we need to do, and what we feel we have to do in our lives. No control, no judgement. We all have each others back. And sometimes, as one of us goes through growing and changing, that means adjusting to each others progress. One friend moved over the mountain into Idaho, she it was hard to see her compared to if she was in Jackson. A few friends had babies and cannot get out as easily. But we are all still connected and loved. I have been blasted by a couple friends because they felt I needed to hear something. One friend was so ornry when we were talking, I actually did paperwork while on the phone because it was pretty harsh for awhile and I had to kind of check out or hang up, but in both instances they meant well and that is what I had to remember is to take the truth of what they were saying and try to apply it to my life. I do much better though with gentle communication styles however. I would not even consider some of the advice I receive if it were not from a place of love. Yet, sometimes, I have to speak up and defend my position, even harshly back so that I will be heard. And it works because we are connected, we know we will be part of each others lives, so we continue on and are there for each other.
I hope that everyone could have a community where freedom, love and care could just flow without judgement or control, because it is a beautiful thing. And we all learn so much from each others differences, that too enriches our lives. And true, most of those in my circle are fairly like minded, but we are all allowed to be ourselves, even the quirks, or shyness some of us may have.