Happiness is Community
Without a sense of caring there can be no sense of community. ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo
Sunday’s are always an interesting day for me because they are the day I write my Sunday post. While here in Oaxaca City, I’ve been writing a new post nearly every night. I hope to be able to keep that up for the entire time I’m here, we’ll see how that works once I start four hours of language school each day tomorrow. So far it’s been easy, a new place, new revelations and the Dia de Los Muertos festival.
Each day I take a couple of walks, I’m trying to make sure that I walk at least four miles every day. Typically later in the day I take a walk through the zocalo to see what is happening. One of the really nice things about Oaxaca is the zocalo. The space is ringed with restaurants, shops, vendor booths and food vendors. There is almost always some form of entertainment happening each night.
One of the things I really noticed tonight as I was walking around was the sense of community that I saw in the zocalo. Small groups of friends and/or family eating dinner. Groups enjoying the music or just walking and talking snacking on the corn on the cob that is so prevalent from the street vendors.
A sense of community or sense of belonging is an important factor in feeling happy. This need is initially addressed as children by our immediate and extended family. As we grow older, particularly as we complete school and begin working that default community structure is not always as strong or available. Particularly for those of us who move out of the places where we grew up. No longer having family near at hand, or being in a town where there are people you’ve known your entire life can make finding community a lot harder.
There are plenty of recommendations about how to build community. People most often develop community through their workplace, or via their children’s connections to other children through school. People participating in church or volunteer organizations build community through those structures or through group activities/hobbies. But what if these don’t work for you? For many of us, particularly those of us who are introverts, we find that at work, we’re often the youngest or only single people in the office. Without children and if you don’t have a strong religious conviction, you lose out on those opportunities as well. Finally, particularly for those who are just starting out in their career, you are putting in a lot of hours at work and for those of us further along overworking often becomes a substitute for community. It’s hard, I don’t pretend to have a solution, I know all of the right things to say, I listed a number above. And one thing that I’m not very good at is just putting yourself out there, become a joiner until you find something that works for you.
For me, given my nomadic nature, my community is virtual. Not is the sense that the people aren’t real, but that they are not physically present in my life. It is something that I would like to change, it’s a hole I feel in my life, but given my core nature, I’m not sure I can. So I was more than a bit envious tonight walking the zocalo and seeing all of these little communities. I was happy for all of these folks and their happy smiling faces, I hope that you’re smiling tonight my friends and having a happy day. ~ Rev Kane