Lately more than ever the evolving concept and reality of community have been my saving grace during this time of upheaval and uncertainty. It is the community that I am brought back to again and again. As a self described hermit and lover of all things introverted I embraced the opportunity to take a collective break from the commute, the communal watering hole, and the patio get togethers. I even had a studio built with a door, lock, key and all to further cocoon myself. I spent hours painting, reading, working, writing, and sometimes sitting on my faux leather couch feeling perfectly happy to stare into space. Friends would send appetizing texts for socially distanced get togethers in parks, play dates with children, beach days in the sun. I “sadly” turned them all down and would return time and time again to the solitude of my studio, the quiet of the four walls, and the blank stares of my plants – the only living companions in my sacred space.
I felt secretly guilty that this upheaval in the lives of many had created an island of peace and stillness that I had secretly longed for. I felt guilty that there were people suffering, dying and losing loved ones – and that was directly related to the life I enjoyed cultivating. When my extroverted friends reached out because the quiet, solitude and isolation was glaringly disturbing to them – I wanted to help relieve their suffering but I couldn’t bring myself to leave this sacred space for one.
To say that I spent this time in covid completely alone is a bit misleading. Because even though I stopped going out to stay connected. I was actually quite connected to various communities in some profound ways. My neighbours and I had lived mere seconds from each other for over 10 years but had not spent that much time getting to know each other. Our lives before Covid involved coming from the house, to the car to work, and back again. There was very little opportunity to engage. One day we stopped all that and decided to meet in our driveways for weekly drinks. We unfolded into friendships and bonds. We learned about how much joy and suffering had taken place in the last 10 years that we were oblivious to even though we lived mere steps from each other. Now our lives consist of weekly hang out sessions, daily walks, and messages that range from asking for support, recipes, to sharing the hilarious and aggravating things our families do for kicks – all due to the lockdown.
Clearly how we create connection and community in the time of Covid has changed. Covid has shown us that we not only require flexibility at work but we also need to apply it to the ways we build community, relationships, and partnerships. Through this season of unrest I have built communities that reached across the driveway, that criss-crossed my country, and ones that stretched the globe. Most of this is due to some communities that I am blessed to be a part of in the health and wellness sector. Claire Clarke, from Calm, has created community across the world through the Calm Ambassador program that I am a part of. Our latest group focussed on approaching racial justice through a mindfulness lens. We were able to process the current social climate together with vulnerability and compassion. The GoodBodyFeel Teacher Training program I have been a part of since the lockdown, offered an inclusive and dynamic community where yoga and pilates style teacher trainers learned to care more about the opportunity to bring everyone into movement practices rather than creating an elitist practice that leaves people out. The teacher trainers and I didn’t meet for months but we would show up for each other in so many crucial ways. The Church 444 Studio community gave me a whole different view of how art, movement, and wellbeing blend in and outside a physical space through the support of amazing practitioners. I am encouraged and enriched by the mostly virtual exchanges that have taken place.
Somehow my commitment in community thrived during this time of change, upheaval and turmoil. At the same time I was able to find a surprising balance between my beloved solitude and my love of connecting with others in meaningful ways. I hope this time has offered you a refreshing way of looking at community and connection.