Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Compassion and Community

No one wants to be the focus of community concern. If you are, you're either in big trouble, or something awful's happened to you. For us, it's the latter.

Today's been a little overwhelming. We've received many generous gifts and well wishes from the Laronde Elementary School community (where Amy taught for two years) as well as in the mail. To be honest, I find it amazing that people care so much. Not only have the gifts warmed our hearts, not only will they help us through this hospital marathon, but they remind me that we're not solely guided by self-interest like the homo economicus theorists believe we are. There's more to us than simple self-interest. The image that keeps coming to mind is of the countless stories of dolphins rescuing people washed away in storms and bringing them back to the shore. There's no logical reason why they do it, but they do.

It's overwhelming because there's just so much love and kindness out there, and I don't think any of us are used to it. I think a lot of our unfamiliarity with this aspect of our nature has to do with our inexperience with communities. We've really set up our society here weirdly, if you think about it.  We live in "boxes." We have boxes that we sleep in, work in, shop in, drive around in. There's boxes for pretty much everything, located very far apart from each other, with different people moving here and there, and none really being connected to one another in any meaningful way.

It's overwhelming because most of us don't know what real community is. We live in networks. We have work networks, family networks, recreation networks, kids activities networks, fun networks, etc.  None of us really share the same community.

It's overwhelming because we don't "commune" ... and therefore, we don't experience what it's like to be connected to so many people. And I'll tell you, being the recipient of so many gifts and gestures of sincere compassion and concern is wonderfully overwhelming. Developing so many meaningful connections with people – because of Gabrielle – is overwhelming in the most incredible way. No one wants to be here, and in most moments you feel all alone, but days like these make you feel a part of something more than a mish-mash of random networks.

Thank you everyone. We appreciate it more than you know.

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