26 June 2014
Last week we were camping with a group of families who come together every year to celebrate midsummer, we have joined them for the last three years. Each time I come home and ponder over this wonderful community that I immerse myself in for a few days each year.
Whenever I watch or read about communities or tribes who live simple lives with lots of other families, sharing the tasks required to raise their families and sustain their lives I wish I had been born into their lives. I cannot fathom why my society feels that this way of life is somehow backward, primitive and worthy of the label second or third world. Looking at this way of life from our own is to do so through the wrong kind of eyes.
We have water on tap, we don't have to walk for an hour to fetch it but to think that this is arduous and time consuming is to misunderstand a completely different way of life. This time gives those that walk to fetch it a chance to take a break from what ever else they have been doing, they can talk and chat as they walk, putting to bed their troubles and worries, sharing ideas, perhaps noticing sources of food if they live a hunter and gather way of life. The water tap when camping was a long walk away my storage container small I had to make the trip often but it never seemed a chore. We are slaves to time, something I have written about before. But if you don't live by your clock, but by the sun does it matter how long something takes? How wonderful to not be ruled by time or the clock. Whilst I was camping I rarely looked at my watch. I didn't need to know what the time was, we ate when we were hungry and went to bed when we were tired.
But the most significant and wonderful aspect of the camping was the community. We came together to celebrate the midsummer and we shared. We shared food coming together for some of the meals, we shared crafts and most importantly we shared the care of our children. Without ever having to discuss it the children always had a adult nearby either at the tents or at the beach (where we all felt it appropriate for an adult to be if the children were there). We weren't watching over them like a hawk but were there in the background keeping an eye out and able to help out if there was a problem or a hurt. Most of the time I had no idea where my children were but as I knew that they would always be with someone (another 'rule' we had, don't go off alone). I never worried about them and I always knew that if I had to go off for water, washing up or whatever, that there would be someone else to care for them in my absence should they return to find me gone. The way we live our lives is so artificial. As isolated family units with the parents responsible for all the childcare, usually the mother for most of the day. This is incredibly hard work. The village I live in is a link back to the past in our own society with extended families remaining in the village and all of the individual families taking responsibility for each others children. This is not without its own local pitfalls but as a premise it seems far better than the way most of us find ourselves living. The community doesn't need to be based on family, for me I would want to be part of a community of like minded individuals whose vision of the community values are similar to my own. I had a taste of that last week and boy would I love it to continue as I return to the madness of clock watching and my isolated family unit.
What about you? Have you experienced community living? Are you part of a community or want to be or would it be your worst nightmare?