Thinking Community

It has been a weird week. There is something in the air, more than just the grey clouds and fresh scent of rainfall.

As I dive further and further into my academic readings and writings I am becoming more and more aware of the various communities I belong to. Some of these are communities I was born into, others I joined at a young age, some I joined more recently while reintegrating into full-time student life, and others I became members of along my life journey. Throughout my life I have transitioned in and out of various communities while also remaining fairly engaged in others. Each day brings a new engagement. I participate a little different, I sit back and reflect on my participation, I adopt new practices and I shed others that seem to no longer serve me well.

And while I do all of this, at least of late, I have been attempting to determine the various layers involved in each engagement. What does it meant to me? Why have I decided to participate? What do I gain out of it? Is there an alternative reason why I am participating that I have not thought about? And so forth. I could sit somewhere and think about these things for hours without even realizing the time has past. I have found comfort in being in my head, something I was always uncomfortable with and would attempt to rid through physical activity.

I have always felt uncomfortable in one of the communities I belong to. As a child I had limited friends within this particular community and never felt like I fit. It just was not my cup of tea. In my teens I started to find comfort in the community and as my independence grew so did my involvement within the community. Moving away from home but still belonging to this community gave me a sense of comfort, yet there was still always discomfort. Now, as an adult I have had years of being in and out of the community. At some moments I have been fully engaged, participated in rituals, held leadership positions, and volunteered as often as possible. Other moments I have disconnected fully. My friendships have shifted over the years yet a few have remained strong.

This week though, I have realized that the interweaving of the social connections, cultural practices and religious components have become more conflicted than ever before. Actually, let me step back. Perhaps they have always been meshed and tangled but I have not been witness to it until now. I realize that the intersecting of the social connections with other components of the community has made being a member uncomfortable. But stepping away from the community as a whole does not feel like the right move. So really, as the air shifts as we enter fall here on Vancouver Island, my being is also shifting.

My newest notebook and thinking buddy.

My newest notebook and thinking buddy.

I am thinking about how I want to participate in the various communities I belong to. I am debating the roles of individuals, myself included. I am thinking about the various intersections that allow something to come together or perhaps fall apart. I am wondering what makes certain environments a fit for some and not for others. And I am constantly reminding myself that everyone has their own fit, that we each seek different things in our lives, and that it is my responsibility to make my fit work for me. That leaves me with other thoughts such as how will others interpret my behaviours, thoughts, and feelings? Does it even matter what the other thinks? How will social connections continue to shift in my, and others, lives? How does power play into community life? When and to whom do I share my feelings and thoughts with? And how much space are individuals willing to leave within a community for differences of opinion, personalities, and so forth?

There is a lot to think about, always. It is easy to get immersed in a thought and stuck in the constant rotation of queries. It is even easier to find fault in oneself as you circle through different thoughts. Yet, being in these thoughts has provided me with such joy (yes, nerd alert) during a time of great confusion, debate, discomfort and various other feelings. In the end, what I know for today, September 17, 2015, is that I have opted to step away from the social component of one of the communities I belong to. It is a component of my entangled experiences I would like to critically reflect upon but feel as though being immersed in it at the same time is causing me to reflect based on current experiences and feelings versus using a critical lens.

So, for those reading this that may be apart of this particular community, and others, if you find I have disappeared it has probably been a well thought out and deliberate removal of the self. For my friends, as I continue to work through this process you may find a transition in and out of our connections. I was informed that this may happen (apparently a PhD takes over your life); I did not believe my mentors. Bare with me, if you chose too. If not, I wish you well!

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