I have a friend who moved up north and started a commune. This was many years ago and she never calls it a commune — only “The Land.”
She recently told me that anyone could come there who wanted to live, and they let them come, and the person was asked to stay for one year. They participated in the community, and they were welcomed, but it was understood that it took a year to really know what it meant to live there. To have the experience necessary to choose to stay on.
It’s been one year, to the day, since we moved to cohousing.
I remember, even in the first weeks after moving, people would ask me, “How is it?!”
I always felt a little odd because I never replied, “Oh my god, it’s incredible!”
Instead I would say something like, “It’s really good — but I can’t really say how it is yet. We’re still so new there, I really don’t know how it is going to impact us. It feels good, we’re not concerned about anything, but I don’t really know… yet.”
Because how could I know in advance how it would be for us, for me?
Did I know that I would tap into a pool of my own anxiety, and come out the other side with more clarity?
Did I know what it would be like for my child to be playing outside on his own for the first time, essentially in the yard of twenty other households?
Did I know that there would be weekends where we had a community meal, chores, a community meeting, my committee meeting and Rom’s committee work — IN ADDITION to a family birthday party, a Hakomi class, Orlando’s golf class, etc.?
Did I know how much I would grieve for our old neighborhood — the one with the tree-lined streets, one-hundred-year-old houses, sweet and secret spots, the woods, a view of the lake, casual spaces to roam and be together as family?
Did I know how hard it would be, sometimes, to parent in community? And how nice?
Did I know that I would become part of a circle of people saying kaddish for a neighbor who passed away? Each night a prayer for the beauty of his life, the preciousness of this life, the holy commonality of death?
Did I know that the rhythms of the kids changing from one thing to the next — in the last month it’s gone from scooter-crashing to fort-building to four-square to indoor legos — would be a comfort to me? An affirmation of my place in the cycle of life, of my kids’ occupation on this ever-rotating earth?
Did I know what it would be like to participate in meetings with such kind and skilled people, each bravely speaking to their own experiences in a way that makes space for more — more of themselves, more of each other, more of life itself?
Did I realize that moving here was just another experience of creating ever-widening circles of relationship? First in my body with a new baby, then in my family, then in the Hakomi community, and now, here: we’ve plopped our home right in the midst of it all.
Did I know that I would grow, and that I would be challenged? ……….. yes
Did I know all the ways? ……….. no
And do I know all the ways to come? ……….. no
Am I choosing to stay on? ………….