Philosopher Erich Fromm wrote that we can save ourselves from our own madness if we create a community–which he calls a “sane society”–that conforms to our needs. Journalist Sebastian Junger, similarly, argued in his book Tribe that we need community for the sake of our mental health. And one of the wisest men alive, Parker J. Palmer, insisted in A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life that a strong community is necessary for people to be able to develop and exercise their true sense of self.
Like many writers, I’m far more comfortable with myself than in the company of many others, especially strangers. When I was invited to a writer’s retreat this spring, I knew it would be a stretch for me, and when it came time to head over the mountains to it this past weekend, it took a near Herculean effort to haul myself out of my comfort zone and into this gathering of souls I didn’t know.
How grateful I am that I went! This was a community of writers that cared only to write and to support one another’s writerly “needs,” which for some of us intersects with finding and honoring our true selves. It was a refreshing group of individuals, among whom there wasn’t a single hint of the competition or hierarchical bravado that often permeates writing events. Nor was there any unsolicited advice being proffered. Instead, I found only a group of people who represented exactly what community is supposed to be: people who share a common passion (even if we do write in different genres) who come together for sincere support and sanity.
Cheers to these writers! So happy to be part of their community.
The other Laurie