The Gift of Community
THE GIFT OF COMMUNITY
What would it feel like to know that you are never alone?
How would you experience your life if you had the abiding sense of being surrounded by souls who love and support you?
Imagine that you are in such a community – a community of beings who not only love, respect, and support you, but who, in turn, long for your love, respect, and support. A community of fellow travelers, sharing in the adventure of life, suffering and celebrating, learning and growing right alongside you, interconnected with you on your life path.
This is not an imaginary concept. It is the truth of your life. The reality of how it already is.
Whether you experience community in this way depends on whether you are on your Right Road, the path of your Spiritual Self, or your Left Road, the path of your patterns. Let’s take a look at the Left Road / Right Road map, and consider how you experience community on each.
ON THE LEFT ROAD
On the Left Road, no matter what your particular negative patterns may be, the experience of community is based on a sense of disconnection. Others are experienced as separate, as threats. Your patterns may fuel you to compete, dominate, empire-build, try to impress – or perhaps to withdraw, avoid, isolate. Or maybe all of the above.
On the Left Road, you believe your assumptions, and spend a lot of time in others’ heads, instead of in your own. You may experience others’ needs as demands, and find yourself exhausted by trying to please them, drained from ingratiation. Or you may build cases to justify not meeting their needs; judge them for being needy or demanding, gossip about them.
On your Left Road, how do you experience your own needs? Do you invalidate them? Exaggerate your needs? Judge yourself for having them? Whatever your particular patterns are, your experience of your own needs is distorted, unhealthy, on your Left Road. On the Left Road, you are vindictive to yourself and others.
None of this means you are a bad person. It means you are human. All humans have patterns, and patterns steer us down the Left Road – meaning that all humans can experience community in negatively programmed ways. All humans also have the capacity to live on the Right Road, to experience community in Spirit-guided ways.
ON THE RIGHT ROAD
On the Right Road, the experience of community is based on a sense of connection – connection to yourself, first and foremost, which allows for healthy connection to others. The truth of human interconnectedness is welcomed on the Right Road, which creates an experience of community that is enriching, nourishing, revitalizing. You can ask for help and receive support in ways that honor yourself and others.
The same kind of honoring is true when you help others on your Right Road, allowing you to offer support in ways that vitalize instead of drain you. On your Right Road, when you feel challenged by people in your community, you accept this as an invitation to learn and grow. You develop healthy boundaries, enabling you to discern what part of a dynamic is yours, and what part is not, and to take healthy responsibility for your part.
Living this way requires vulnerability as well as courage, both of which are qualities on your Right Road. On your Right Road, you know you are love, loving, and lovable. And you know others are, too.
LEFT ROAD OR RIGHT ROAD
The Right Road experience of community is, in the words of Parker Palmer, a gift to be received versus a goal to be achieved. At any given moment, you can choose to live on your Right Road and to experience this gift. It’s a constant choice, always available to you. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that it’s far easier to live on the Left Road. The Left Road is the path of least resistance, the road you take when you’re living from your programming, your default Operating System. Whenever you’re on autopilot, you’re on your Left Road. Notice how the Left Road circles back toward itself, versus the Right Road, which takes you in a new direction. There is nothing new on the Left Road, nothing original.
CHOOSE TO RECEIVE THE GIFT OF COMMUNITY
The content that life serves up varies, the situations you find yourself in may very well be new, but if you pay attention to the reactions you have on your Left Road and the general state of being you inhabit, you will observe the same negatively programmed patterns and reactivity playing out. The more you know about your Left Road, and what it looks like and feels like for you, the sooner you can catch yourself when your autopilot GPS takes you onto your Left Road, and the more efficiently and effectively you can navigate yourself to your Right Road.
It’s an act that requires mindful awareness and conscious choice. Choose. Choose to receive the gift of community.