Kindred Spirits

I love this poster. Much of my life I felt out of step with and different from most people. Somewhere in my 50’s that shifted. It’s not that kindred spirits aren’t there, it’s that we allow ourselves to fall into social groups instead of purposefully building them.

It's easy to see how this happens. You live somewhere and your neighbors are easy to connect with, you have a job and your co-workers are easy to connect with, you are a parent and meet your kids' friends parents at pickup every day when they are young in particular, they play sports so you sit with the other parents, you volunteer and work closely with other volunteers, you have hobbies that put you in contact with a group or are part of a religion with regular services.  The list goes on and on.  Those we are regularly throw together with because of the life we live are the easiest to get to know. 

I turned around one day when my kids were older and no longer needed my supervision and realized that, while these were all wonderful people, if you take our common interest in our kids and activities away, we honestly had very little in common. That isn't the way it is for everyone, sometimes people can make life-long connection, but it is that way for many of us. And it's hard to accept. For awhile I tried to keep those connections up, but it was to no avail. We were just to different. That left me adrift in terms of community. Remember, I moved to Canada when I married my husband and had no family or friends I had known for years here. There were no long time connections to fall back on.

There was a moment in one particular interview that opened my eyes to the possibilities. I have talked about it often in my writing, so will not go into depth here again, but the gist is simply that it can be life-changing to purposely build your community.  You start with what is important to you.   I love variety in my life, so had no interest in being in a group of cookie cutter people who all thought the same.  But I also did not want to be in a group where everyone had to be right - my way or the highway. I wanted to be in a relationship with others where we gave and received support equally, where we didn't compete. Instead we took turns being on the stage being celebrated and turns being in the audience cheering others on stage. I wanted to be in a group that hoped to make the world a better place.

It took time and effort and keeping my eyes open, but slowly my beautiful group of friends grew.  They vary widely - working different careers, coming from widely different backgrounds, and having different goals, beliefs, spiritual ideas and genders.  What we share is an acceptance of each other, the desire to lift each other up, the ability to take turns in the spotlight, a balanced give and take, and a love of our families (however we personally define family).  

I rarely cut people from my life, but am thoughtful about those in my inner circle. Life is short and I realized my inner circle is very important to my becoming all I want to be. Those in it are people I trust implicitly and I do everything in my power to honor the gift of their support by offering the same to them. 

Try to find a few moments this week to look at the people you have the closest connections with. Were you drawn together by circumstance or by choice?  Do you feel lifted up by them and do you feel you lift them up? If you're in a good place, great. If not, change is possible. And try to keep your heart open for that new kindred spirit. There is always room for more.