We are in the new house this week doing errands and scheduling estimates for shockingly expensive home improvements. I keep walking around this town and looking at people and wondering if I will be friends with them. It is a very funny thing to do, to look at a stranger and wonder if you would like them. Essentially, what you are doing is weighing how familiar they look. The more familiar they appear the more likely it is to imagine that you could have something in common. It is probably a hangover from some animal part of our brain that prevents slugs from going out and trying to make friends with eagles. But in human beings it can easily turn into a kind of judgment that doesn’t really benefit anyone.
I have no idea what kinds of people I will make friends with, I walk around the grocery store and find the anonymity both thrilling and terrifying. I would like to approach building our new community here with an open mind. I would like to break the pattern of just gravitating towards the familiar and come more from a place of genuine curiosity about who people are. It is sort of an embarrassing thing to realize that at almost 40 some part of me is still wondering who the cool girls are.
Building a community will take time and I don’t know yet who the new faces are that will one day be old friends. It is an interesting time to observe my mind and see how quickly when faced with a situation I am drawn to the safety of the familiar. When we first moved to our last house, I had no children. Many of the friends I made in those early years are people who have watched our family grow and change. Those relationships are very dear and those connections so important. Our new friends won’t ever meet my children as babies, or know that there was a time when we were not special needs parents. In some ways it feels like we are bringing a life in progress to a new place, I am not sure I have ever had that experience before. It used to be that new beginnings coincided with milestones, the beginning of high school, college or married life. Our peer group was clearly defined by circumstance which in some ways made creating a life easier.
New experiences are the best way to study our habits. When we take ourselves out of our comfort zone we can see the ways in which we protect ourselves. I am excited about the prospect of building a community, I hope it is filled with all sorts of different kinds of people and their stories. Every new relationship, be it friend, teacher, or student is kind of an adventure in being human. Seeking out ways to surprise ourselves is one of the best ways to stay awake to all that our lives have to offer. We don’t have to shake things up in huge ways to experience this, it can be as simple as changing your morning coffee shop. Any time we allow ourselves to experience things in a new way we are waking up a little bit more to all that our life has to offer.