We all want to belong. To be part of something, involve ourselves in community in some capacity. It’s in our nature. Even some of us John Wayne tough, loner types need to roll out the guns and interact with a “patna” once and a while.
On a related note, I have thoroughly enjoyed Noomi Rapace’s movie trilogy, the one beginning with, “The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo“. Talk about a gal after my own heart! Coming from a punk rock/hardcore background myself, who’s often sported many of the main character’s fashion choices, and, perhaps a bit of the chutzpah, I could relate. I noticed that, even though the main character was very much a loner, striking out on her own, even in the dead of night, she still needed to interact with people she’d learned to trust in order to survive.
And we all have that basic need to survive through community. From our hunter/gatherer days of hunting sabertooths with each other to get food on the table, to nowadays connecting with each other through our Blackberries and Androids to even make simple business transactions, we want, and need to, connect.
In Chinese Medicine, connecting with others can involve various organs, but most notably, the Heart. The Heart allows us to reach out, connecting our flames with others’. This is also the organ of expression and communication. And when we experience challenges with the Heart, we also have a hard time expressing our needs, communicating with others in healthy ways, or even just communicating with ourselves (yes, some of us have a knack for not tuning into what we’re really feeling in our deep seated self or what we feel in our body.) Sometimes it comes in a mild form, like being perplexed about how to convey a carefully worded resignation to a boss, or how to discuss an emotionally-charged issue with a friend. On the extreme, it can be a full disconnection with self and others, where one would have what us Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners call, “Phlegm Misting The Orifices”, in which case, one cannot think straight (this is more than simply having a “bad day”), nor communicate effectively, if at all, and may be totally shut down emotionally, even on a possible physical level. They may have hallucinations or be in their own reality. In this extreme case, they can often be a threat to their own safety, or others’.
I recognized the importance of community when I edited and published my zine, Bamboo Girl, from 1995-2005 (which I mention in this blog post.) What originally started as a purely selfish tool to rant and vent about injustices I saw in the world, grew to become a tool to create dialogue with others on a national and international level, discussing issues with people who strongly identified with me, and those who didn’t get me at all. It was even featured in Utne and Jane magazines, and there was even a lil’ ditty writeup in the Village Voice, complete with a picture of me in malong (a traditional fabric worn in the Philippines, especially by the tribal cultures), with the caption “Pinay Warrior Princess” (can you guess that we were all watching a lot of “Xena”?)
During this time, I was also more involved in the activist communities, was involved with certain local campaigns, and I hosted very well attended benefit parties to raise funds for my zine, which often included emerging and well-established artists in the Asian and Filipino communities. To this day, I still carry Bamboo Girl in my heart, and still get feedback from folks who’ve enjoyed my zine.
Now, I’ve chameleoned from warrior archetype to healer archetype. Frankly, I think healers are warriors, at whatever levels they may be. People think that because healers want to help people heal, that we are (only) about love and light, turtledoves, and sweet cheeks. Not true at all. Well, maybe for some. But, in actuality, many of us have arrived at this place of healing and strength to share this with others, because we’ve had to find healing within ourselves or to help people we love, which has often come with some hard knocks, drama, and unpleasant lessons we may not have chosen to learn if it were up to us. On a physical or emotional level. And, in a way, we’ve charged through our own battlefronts to get to where we’re at right now. Acupuncturists just focus our personal revolutions into our qi (yes, there, I said the word!) and through our needles.
And through school, and other venues, I have an additional community. I was reminded of it this weekend when I attended a CEU (continuing education unit) seminar at my alma mater, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine-NY. It was called “Expert Systems in Chinese Medicine” with Alex Tiberi. It was an excellent view of interesting point prescriptions for various disorders.
I reunited with many classmates I hadn’t seen for quite some time, and many laughs were heartily chuckled! I was reminded about how similar our stories were, even if we’d come from opposite backgrounds. And, how helpful it is to be among those who’d sat in my internship shifts with me, sharing stories of where we’re at now, what/how we treat, where our offices are, our job situations, what’s worked and hasn’t, exchanging numbers and contact information (which should’ve been done a long time ago.) And, after the shop talk, we reconnected in ways that made me giggle and made my heart want to burst.
What are some truths about belonging and connectedness?
- That we are all connected. Our random acts of kindness (or otherwise) reverberate out. I won’t get too metaphysical and mention about what it can do to a butterfly perching on a flower in a forest on the other side of the world, but you get the picture.
- That sometimes it’s just as simple as realizing that we matter, and, that no matter how minute, what we do matters.
- That breathing is a simple, yet significant way, to get in touch with ourselves and what’s going on in our bodies.
- That our lives are not singular. There are many others out there dealing with our same issues.
- That on a practical level, you should try getting out of the house once and a while, if you’re physically able. Even though it’s contradictory to what some of us may want to do when we are upset or sad, the change in atmosphere and having people around us can remind us that all of us have a story, and that yours is very different once you step out the door. Oh yeah, and did I mention yet that we’re all connected? Even if some of us are just getting from Point A to Point B, connection happens. You need to allow yours.
So, yes. You do belong. Even if you’re sending an email, or crossing the street, or paying for something at the cash register, you are interacting. The connection to the rest of the world becomes even more enriching when you do what you love. What is that for you?
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