Monday, October 12, 2009

Tensile Strength of Load-sharing Bundles

I had a conversation with someone last week about ways to get my music out into the world. Walking away from this short chat, I had half a dozen names and organizations that could provide some support for what I am trying to create. And I would guess that each of those names could yield even more possible partnerships. By recognizing that I don't have to do everything myself, I was able to ask for and receive some valuable support.

When I believe that I have to bear the entire weight of my dreams and goals, I reach a breaking point fairly quickly. There are just too many things in which I an inexperienced and unskilled, and I feel the pressure of time more keenly. When I realize that I am actually surrounded by people who can partner with me in some way to share the vision I am creating, the possibility of reaching a breaking point is barely a consideration for me. And I am more open to how I can be of service in their visions as well.

I believe that this is a vital characteristic of healthy communities: "Bundles" of people partnering together in support of one another are going to be stronger by far than a group of individuals all trying to do everything themselves. It's difficult for a group of people to work toward a common purpose if they are each struggling to carry the weight of their own lives. Of course, this kind of partnership requires vulnerability and trust for a community's members to receive support from one another. And it requires willingness and acceptance for a community's members to offer true support to one another.

It may seem a bit counter-cultural to offer and receive mutual support in this way. We are accustomed to a strange mixture of problem-solving, enabling, independence, and blamelessness. I suppose in many ways holding others at arm's length (or farther) looks safer, but it doesn't create strong partnerships the way mutual support can.

But that support can get messy sometimes. It isn't always supportive to approve what someone is trying to create in their lives carte blanche. Sometimes support means that we hold one another's feet to the fire, or we notice blind spots that another person is missing. It means being aware enough of one another's true aims that we can speak up truthfully when we see something that is off the mark. And it also gives us an opportunity to examine ourselves when another person is honest with us. This is how we become sharper. This is what creates a strong community of strong individuals.

Of course, not every community is practicing this kind of supportive partnership. My guess is that very few of them do. But I am wondering what would be possible if they did. What would a world of load-sharing, bundled people in community with one another look like?

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