What Inspires: Community
We do most of the really hard work—to quote George Baily in one of my favorite Christmas movies, It’s A Wonderful Life—“most of the living and dying around here” alone.
Nothing wrong with Alone. Alone is when I do most of my deep thinking. Alone is when I do my deep cleaning, straightening, organizing. Alone is when I write down most of those brilliant ideas.
Alone is when I falter, too.
That’s when Community makes the difference. As a brand-new mother in a brand-new town, I was completely lost and helpless until a neighbor, Sally, crossed the street and pulled me by the hand into hers.
With my children grown, I consider myself more of a writer than mother, so that's the community I'm thinking of now. When I was first beginning my writing career, I belonged to a writing Community of 2: Ronnie Davidson and me, sitting side-by-side in her attic office from 8:30 to 11:00 am Monday through Friday, her at the computer keyboard clicking away, me with a legal pad on my lap, scribbling. However small, without my Writing Community, I may well have dropped the notion of becoming a professional writer.
Mid-way through my writing career, my Community grew to include critique groups, writing organizations, such as OWFI, SCBWI, Authors’ Guild, etc. My Writing Community grew so large that its tentacles spread into almost all other areas of my life.
Then just as George’s younger brother Harry, and Sam Wainwright and even brassy Violet tried to, I left my Community. I didn’t realize what I was leaving until I faltered again…and again and didn’t have my Community-- colleagues/friends/critique buds/teachers-- to which I could turn.
- Community are those folks who talk you off the ledge when you’re feeling like chucking it all…
- Community keeps you honest and grounded when you’re on top, by remembering you when—and never letting you forget.
- Community keeps you going when you hit bottom, by reminding you why you’re trying to do something “so dog gone hard in the first place” and how far you’ve come.
- When you need advice, commiseration, support, love, Community is the place to go, because there’s sure to be someone there who has either “been there, done that” or knows someone who knows someone who might, or might not, have been.
Clarence the apprentice Angel took that icy plunge on Christmas Eve just so he’d have a chance to remind George of his Community and his role in it.
I didn’t need a Clarence to remind me; I have a Marilyn, my sister-in-law who’s battling breast cancer [for more click back on Helping Hearts blog posting]. Like George, Marilyn’s Community is huge, and rich and diverse. And just as everyone in Bedford Falls rushed over when they heard the call that “George Baily” needed help, Marilyn’s Community is rallying around her. They arrive with treats, with notes, with rides, with offers of help and support of all kinds. Soon after I arrived to support Marilyn post-surgery, she said to me, "I'm learning how to let people help. You have to keep that in mind, too. People want to help and it's important to let them."
We talk so much about giving--especially at this time of year. We don't spend so much time considering receiving. We don't want to be receivers (except on the ball field). We don't want to be in the position of needing help. But that's Community! In giving we receive; in receiving we give.
Community! A gift we give and receive
FYI: I Googled quotes to make sure I correctly remembered the line from “It’s A Wonderful Life.” In the process, I came across this article by Joe Carter, comparing Frank Capra and Ayn Rand. I found it worth the read. You might, too! “The Fountain Head of Bedford Falls”
Want the full movie quote?
George is talking to Old Man Baily, justifying the existence of the Savings and Loan, when he says: “Well, this riffraff you’re talking about does most of the living and dying around here. Is it too much to ask for them to do it in two decent rooms and a bath?” – For more memorable lines from the movie visit Eudanomics: My Pursuit of Happiness blog
Community: Starts With Two...