I spent this last weekend at the wedding of one of my best friends. I was Best Man, in fact. The weekend concluded my ninth wedding in a 12 month period. That time of life, I suppose.
Over the course of the weekend I couldn’t help but find myself thinking about the importance of communities. I thought about how these communities change over time and how one’s communities are colored by very distinct decisions they make in life. My friend is a surgeon and thus, many attendees of the wedding came from his med school or had a medical background. In contrast, the few of us from high school found ourselves talking about the same things we talked about as teenagers - indie rock bands and general shenanigans.
I was reminded of a pretty simple equation: the decisions that my friend Charles made to become a doctor and to go to med school, shaped the community he had. In turn, the communities he continues to choose to be a part of today influence the way he processes information and experiences.
Thinking back on my own life, the communities that I am a part of are a direct effect of these decisions (not an exhaustive list):
- the decision to go to Brown University
- the decision to play tennis throughout high school
- the decision to pursue a BA in Race and Ethnicity
- the decision to work at Google and Amazon
- the decision to leave NY and move to Los Angeles
- the decision to pursue Olympic Weightlifting competitively
I wrote this list out as a quick exercise. I find it helpful for a performance oriented workhorse like myself. While many of these decisions were made because of the achievements they promised, today I reflect on them with a focus on the communities they provided.
Thinking about the driving forces behind what makes strong communities is important because having strong communities is what makes me feel human. It’s what makes me feel explicitly connected to something that is larger than myself and thus, allows me to be more present. The farther away I feel I am from communities, the smaller my world becomes and the more I feel I need to be at the center of that very small world. The closer I am to my communities, the more space I have to be present. That is not an ‘achievement’. That is something different and it feels nourishing.