Why Bother With Community?

Why Bother With Community?

Just recently, I decided to return to the community of yoga teachers. I’ve missed the experience of teaching yoga and it was an exhilarating and encouraging experience to interview the other day for a position I’d once held, let go of and now hope to secure once again. 

      CommUnity

Being a part of a yoga teaching community means that I will get to hobnob with other teachers again. I’ll sub for their classes and they will sub for mine. We’ll exchange ideas, support one another with our knowledge, and seek one another’s company when we attend those required employee meetings. 

Belonging to a community of yoga teachers gives me a sense of belonging to a group.  Within this group, I will find like minded individuals who share common ideas and values. But also within this community, I will find philosophies and ideas that vary slightly from my own simply because no two people think and teach alike.  

But, no matter what type of community we belong to, whether it be a belly dancing community, a biker community or political one, each group is made up of particular, peculiar, and distinct individuals. People are similar, but not exactly the same. 

What we have in common is what draws us together and noticing the differences can sometimes make belonging to a community a bit of a struggle. But these differences do not need to polarize us or keep us from participating in the lives of others. Instead, appreciating and respecting the things that make others distinct promotes an amicable community. 

It has been said that human beings are relational by nature which means we are not meant to isolate and detach ourselves from each other. Sharing the things we have in common and respecting the things we don’t have in common make for better communities. 

Why bother with community? Within the word community is common unity. In isolation there is only a small “i”. We are not intended to do this life alone.

Why Bother To Tread Lightly?

Why Bother To Tread Lightly?

I am grateful that I live in a beautiful part of our country. So far, the lake I swim in is still a clean body of water, the skyline is filled with majestic mountains instead of smokestacks, and pine trees along with the deer population outnumber people. Most folks who live here are conscientious of the environment and want to keep it as pristine as possible. As a matter of fact, on one of the trails I hike in the summer and x-country ski in the winter stands a very old tree with the plaque nearby that reads, “Please help us to protect this special tree. It works hard to live here, and soil compaction from your footsteps harms its fragile roots.” 

What Does Your Plaque Read?

Each time I stand under that old tree and consider the words on its plaque, it causes me to pause. What would it be like if we were as concerned for one another as we are for preserving our natural and beautiful surroundings. If we carried a plaque, what would it say that might help to remind others to treat us with care? 

Granted, it is hard to live in our world and sometimes people do step on us accidentally, as well as on purpose. Either way, giving others a wide berth, a bit of understanding and a little forgiveness keeps a mutual feeling of civility between people. Though we may think everyone is aware of common courtesies, they do not seem as common any more.  “Please”, “thank-you”, “excuse me”, and “I’m sorry”  are small words, but when used, they make a big difference. 

Noticing others and giving a friendly wave, smile or nod when walking by them lets them know that you see them. To acknowledge and greet another person, even if they are a stranger, is a simple act of kindness. Ignoring them is terribly rude. 

It is easy to see when someone needs a helping hand. Opening a door for an elderly person, pulling over when a driver is in obvious distress, stopping to pick up something that someone has dropped or helping to catch a dog on the loose are all simple and uncomplicated ways we can be helpful to others. 

Finally, there are those who don’t look as though they need help, but you get a sense that they do. Maybe they need a listening ear, a word of encouragement, or some wise counseling. Knowing how to help can be difficult, but knowing they need help is easy to detect. 

If I were to wear a plaque it might say something like this— “Thank you for making eye contact with me, thank you for taking a moment to smile. Thank you for a kind word, but mostly, thank you for acknowledging that we are both human.”

Why bother to tread lightly? It is worth it to remember that we are all fragile in some way or another and a simple act of kindness keeps our footsteps from tromping one another down.