Today is Day 10 at the European Rainbow gathering in Portugal and I’m still loving it here. There is something about living together in community which really touches me, which clearly draws me here. There is a split in me, however, in that I also have a tendency and a preference to isolate at times. I joined in to a talking stick circle where people we taking turns talking about intentional communities and what they are seeking or have experienced. The funny thing about the whole thing was simply that it struck me that people do live together in community. Of course they do, some of you might say, but for me, I am so steeped in self-sufficiency and the model of fending for oneself that the concept/possibility/reality that people actually do live in intentional community together has largely escaped me. One man spoke of a community in Italy that he is a part of with about 150 people in it where the only rules are that alcohol is not allowed and marijuana use is limited to only certain situations. Beyond that, he says there are no rules, no pre-defined roles, no formal work requirements, no systems of barter/exchange, etc. People just do and contribute as they feel is appropriate for themselves and the common good.
I’m not saying I’m planning to live in an intentional community such as that, but I can feel my mind creaking, with the tectonic plates of my skull trying to jimmy themselves loose and shift into an alignment more supportive of the reality which I am coming to recognize. There may very well be another way to live.
The other thing I want to explore here is the line between pushing oneself into uncomfortable/unfamiliar territory and simply accepting ourselves exactly and wherever we are. It’s an interesting dilemma because the easiest path we can travel in life is generally the path of least resistance, which is often the most familiar and comforting one, yet the path whereupon we find resistance is often the one we need to travel if we are to grow, expand and become more than that which we have known ourselves to have been. As a personal example here at Rainbow, there are many people who regularly step forward in leadership roles, either in “focalizing” (a Rainbow word, I believe) certain functions and tasks such as food requisition, meal preparation, meal serving, etc.), or in offering and leading workshops, creating and coordinating group ritual, and developing entertainment (there was actually a fantastic full-on comedic musical presented yesterday about Rainbow in a sweet meadow by a creek attended by over 500 people). When I see people stepping forward in public settings, it can trigger pangs of self-doubt in me for I too would like to be a person who shares his gifts/talents/capacities more publicly and generously, yet something often arises (fears, doubts) which holds me back from doing so. So the exploration really is: Is it better to just go easy on oneself and simply rest in not putting oneself forward, or is it best to step forward into uncomfortable places in the quest for growth and expansion and perhaps a more accurate alignment with one’s true self? The third option of not doing anything and then beating oneself up about it seems to be the one I’ve often chosen yet seems to be an obviously wrong path. For me, at least at the moment, I don’t think there is a clear answer to this question, so I’ll let it remain as something simply to be attended to as situations arise. One thing is for certain though, and that is that it is important to me to continue to give, grow and expand in life, but it is also perhaps more important to be at peace with myself exactly where I am in life.
Perhaps the concept of living in an intentional community is one of those very things I am writing about here, one which I find as an uncomfortable proposition, a path of greater resistance, yet perhaps one which would provide a new degree of growth in ways unforeseen.