note: i originally wrote and guest-published this piece for a friend’s blog, but i’m re-posting it here for my loyal readers’ delight. xo!
not all who wander are lost. if you’ve never heard this quote, you’re probably not residing on planet earth. on the contrary, if you’ve never read the full poem from which it is sourced, you’re in good company (avec moi).
truth: until very recently, i just assumed this quote was invented to be pimped out on really important stuff like graphic tees, school posters and inspirational instagram accounts. sorry #LOTR fans. abominable, i know.
what changed, say you? well, i sat down to write this blog post. a post about the importance of building community amidst transience.
you see, i’ve been thinking a lot about wandering lately. partially because there are elements in my life that require a certain degree of literal wandering around the country (read: my husband kicks a soccer ball for a living, so we tend to relocate every few years at the mercy of major league soccer). and partially because — for whatever reason — quite a few of my very closest friends/family members seem to be experiencing significant life changes as of late. joyful pregnancies, unexpected diagnoses, breakups, makeups, job changes… you name it. even if their physical location hasn’t changed in years, they are most definitely wandering in another sort of way.
we. are. all. wanderers.
that realization is what led me to google the aforementioned quote and ultimately read my main man tolkien’s full poem. it’s a good one. but here’s my hang up, guys…
if our author here is indeed correct (and i do think he is) that not all of us wanderers are lost — what is it that separates the ‘lost’ wanderers from those that are ‘found’?
sadly, i am 100% clueless as to what tolkien had in mind when he wrote this (sorry again #LOTR fans). what i do know, however, is that over the years i seem to have become slightly more proficient at staying grounded amidst my own wanderings. part of that can be attributed to simply growing up and amassing life experience. but for the remainder of this blog post, i’d like to focus on another part. one that has required quite a bit more effort. and that is:
actively seeking — and contributing to — a sense of community.
sounds obvious enough. what do i really mean by that? let’s go deeper.
in a world where technology makes it easier than ever to feel ‘connected’ without actually leaving the cozy corner of the sectional (best couch spot ever though, #amiright?), the onus is increasingly on us to step out of our comfort zone and establish real connections with the people around us.
and this helps us wanderers feel found, how?
well. we are social beings. yes, even if we score an “I” on the myers briggs test. deep down we all have a desire to be known. we get energy from connecting with other humans. they lift us up. we lift them up. it’s just… human.
to clarify: i’m not saying we each need to go out and make 1,289,083,092 new friends. that sounds overwhelming and slightly terrible. i am saying there is some serious benefit to establishing roots — real roots — in the community around us.
now. coming from someone who has already watched 11 seasons of grey’s anatomy this year and can facetime with the best of ‘em, i know how tempting it can be to strike a bond with netflix and your iphone vs. real, live humans. sometimes it’s just easier to be alone. especially if you’re feeling somewhat lost.
so, to hold myself accountable on the engaging-with-humans front, here are a few important questions i like to ask myself from time-to-time:
- do i know my neighbors? like seriously. aside from their names… who are they? why do they live here? what do they love? what do they need?
- do i know my co-workers beyond the content of their linkedin profile? can they confide in me? am i someone they can count on… even outside of work?
- do i know the culture of my city? what, in my case, makes denver… denver? have i soaked it up? and, equally as important, have i added to it?
- do i know more about my church than how comfortable the pews are? who’s running the show and how can i get involved?
- do i know people nearby who share my same passions? presently this would include writing, parenting, and living an active lifestyle… kind of 🙂 what can i learn from others who share these same goals? what can they learn from me? how can we encourage one another along our ‘extracurricular’ journeys?
- on the flip-side, do i know people nearby who have different passions than me? do i show up for them… and perhaps even learn something new while i’m at it?
- bottom line: do i think my community would notice if left? would it miss me? would i miss it?
being a passive participant in life is easy. for many of us, it’s our default. particularly when things get hard. but i believe the more actively we embrace our communities, the more actively our communities will embrace us. whether we’ve lived somewhere for 10 days or 10 years, there are always new and meaningful opportunities to love on others… and let them love on us. so go ahead. get off your couch and starting building those relationships. wandering need not be a solitary journey.
let’s find each other, y’all.