finding a more authentic, playful life --- finding your story

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Community (not the TV show)

As you may know, I recently moved to Chicago. I moved to be closer to my family. But a move is hard. When you are single and don't have a family of your own, you have to find another way of finding community. Often it's friends. They become family. They become your community.

I have an Iraqi refugee friend who recently got resettled here in Chicago. Alone. No family. No, I'm not on the path to fall for another Iraqi, but I am trying to make a point.

We need each other people. Without community we are lost. Dorothy Day said:  “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”

Community can be one person or a full entourage. It's your people. Finding community is finding your people. If you're unhappy, maybe you haven't found your people!

When I first moved to New York ten years ago, there was a time when I a mess. I felt lost, alone and had no real community. I had two dear friends, who saved me, but I had no sense of belonging anywhere. And I suffered. I was lonely. I missed my family. I missed my home. Eventually, I found a neighborhood and school and church and yoga studio and neighbors. And all this contributed to my well-being and my sense of community. All this ultimately made me happy.

Have you found your community? Good for you! Is there someone around you who could use a helping hand. Can you help another find their community? Can you help them find a sense of home? Look around. Be proactive. Is there an organization in your community who works with recently resettled refugees? or homeless people? Or even easier, is there someone across from you on the train, or bank line or sidewalk that could maybe benefit from a genuine smile, greeting, offer of help? Can we try to be more human with each other? Turn off your smart phone. Facebook can wait. And observe. Look. Participate. Don't let life (or opportunity) pass you by.

In improv, this might be called: making someone else look good. We use the concept in scenework to remind ourselves that the better someone else looks, we look. Make them successful, we succeed. (this is also the essence of team!) Make them happy, it contributes to your happiness. Contribute to their life, it contributes to yours, enlarging your own sense of community, of family. It's a win win folks.

Take care of each other out there.

“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.”
Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead


  1. This is a terrific essay! Thanks for reminding me how truly lucky I am to be in my community of Lanesboro and the Commonweal Theatre and how grateful I am for the members of that community that make life so special here.

  2. Kim, this is so on the mark. Years ago, I read an article by John McKnight who writes a lot about community. I won't be able to quote it exactly, but one of his observations was: academia learns by studies, government learns by reports, science learns by experiments, and communities learn by stories. I'm thrilled to be in a job that's dedicated to creating/strengthening community through storytelling. Thank you for reminding me why I'm where I am. Maybe it's no coincidence I arrived here not long after I first performed with you!