Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Indomitable (CAIves 2012)
I used to believe in a world where I will eventually find my place and my people, my belonging.

It was like a dream of a future that made Now all the more pitiable. The story went, these people don't get me fully, they don't value what I value most about myself, but someday I'll find where I fit in. I held out that carrot to myself, that possibility, like my tribe was just something I needed to find, a quest I was on that would bring me home. When I was in grade school, I though my tribe would be waiting at the bigger high school. When I was in high school, I thought my tribe would be waiting at University. When I was at University, I thought my tribe would be out in the work world, and then at a company with a better mission, more values-based leadership, more innovation. Then I thought my tribe must be waiting in Community, among the people doing good, or the people creating art. 

As the gurus like to say, what's the common denominator? Me. No matter where I am, it's me, not feeling like my best ideas are welcome, knowing my observations are threatening to the ideas of people around me. Afraid to show too much of what I really am, how I really am, because people send so many messages, at quite shallow levels of relationship, that make it clear that only a select few parts of me really fit, here. The Venn of "me" and "the group" gives a sliver of overlap, and I am expected to live in that thin oval between thick lines. All that changes is which sliver. 

Challenging the Status Quo (CA Ives 2013)
To continue to believe that I will find my tribe seems a little silly, at this point. I am 46 years old. I have shifted to believing that how I am is exactly how I am needed to be in the world. When I show up somewhere, people will probably start to feel uncomfortable and they may not even know why. I need to expect that, and be ready to meet it with openness and kindness, not the fear of rejection. When I share my observations, no matter how I do it, people will probably start feeling threatened. It's not my delivery, it's the essence of our difference that causes that. I need to expect it, and be ready to meet it with compassion and curiosity. If the people I'm working with don't understand or value what I'm bringing, I need to bring them only what they can understand and value, plus one, and see if we can move the needle. That is my job in the world. It's hard to always be the one taking the burden of translating, but I am a stranger in a strange land. If I ever find people who are speaking my language, I will carouse with them in joy. Until then, I will enjoy what I can. 

Maybe I'm in the right place, and feeling alone and misunderstood is part of my role in the flow of What Is. It may be that my work in the world is holding a place of unbelonging, and finding ways to mirror the sight and voice that comes with being on the outside. My journey is the collective journey. My role is essential.  Unbelonging is not something I am doing wrong, or something I should be changing myself to change. It's also not, necessarily, a temporary state I will grow or find my way out of. It may just be the state of my life here on Earth. 

It may be that I actually am so different from most people that the chances of finding others who "get" me at a deep enough level for my satisfaction are extremely low. I may be one in six billion. But that does not absolve me of doing my work in the world. And it doesn't mean I don't have close relationships, strong friendships. It does mean that my deepest soul is sometimes lonely as I live my work on Earth. Maybe that will change, and maybe I'll win the lottery. Either way I'd feel joyful about the prospects. But I don't expect it, so I put my active hope for wider belonging into my moving meditation practice. I reach into myself and outward to What Is for my sense of belonging, and I don't hold it against the humans when they can't make me feel as welcome as I make myself.