Nothing excites me more than the start of something new, and when there are a lot of things going on simultaneously within the same sphere, it is an amazing feeling. For me, this tends to happen when I move to a new place and meet new people, and so I have wrongly associated it with the love of the new, the fresh, the unknown. But now, I realise it is something else.
When I packed my bag (yes, just the one) and moved to Cornwall just over a year ago, with nowhere to live, no job and knowing literally nobody, it wasn’t at all daunting as you might expect, just incredibly exciting. The challenge of having to start from scratch and create a life for myself was deliciously inviting, and I couldn’t resist throwing myself into it headfirst. I decided to move to Falmouth; it had a great music scene, gorgeous vintage shops and cute, quirky cafes. One walk up the length of the high street and I was hooked. So, I checked myself into a hostel room in one of the local pubs and set about trying to build some foundations. The flat, the job. The inevitable ups and downs of this process played themselves out as they must over the coming weeks, but that is not important in this story, the fact is that within three weeks I was renting a room in a flat and had a steady job, both of which I loved. I had roots. I forged connections with the lovely owners of my favourite cafe, who took a great interest in how things were progressing each time I stopped in for a latte.
I had a strong word with my self consciousness and put myself forward to sing at an open mic night that was taking place in the pub in which I was living, and made my first friend. The feeling of invisibility after completing that first social challenge was intoxicating, (more so than the scotch I would have been drinking) and I went to bed feeling invincible. Whole. The next day, it was another challenge as I tried to psyche myself up to go to a folk dancing event at another pub that I had heard of, and again, felt nervous and anxious all day as I tried to summon the courage to attend by myself. Another night of being welcomed by local folk and finding about another open mic the next night. It was at that open mic that I was welcomed into a group of musicians that would become my close friends. Each day the fear of what I was intending to do that evening was intense, but the reward, knowing I had conquered fear and doubt, forged friendships and utilised my creative energy was beyond inspiring. To be able to look around me in the coming weeks at my life, full, abundant and rich and think, “I made this. I created this from nothing,” was the most satisfied I have ever felt. I had believed that I was delighting in the attraction of the new experience, and that its intensity lay in the fact that I was experiencing so many different types of new at once, all beautifully fitting together to become my new life. But, now I see that while this was a huge piece of the puzzle, it was not it at its core. It wasn’t about new experience. It was about belonging. It is about belonging.
The reason that this hit me today with crystal clarity followed an unexpectedly inspiring afternoon. My previous blogs have gone some way to describing the emotional place that in which I have lived since returning from Cornwall. Intense heartbreak, shattered dreams, loss of focus and complete lack of direction. I was, in every sense, lost. I realised that whilst my real spirit lay trapped in this prison, my true essence lying dormant in a dungeon of delusion and disillusionment, that “home” was a good place for me to be, or, in my my lower moments, that my sentence here was likely to be long term. Then slowly, slowly, like a kitten creeping on soft paws, or at other times a tornado battering down defences and wreaking chaos, changes happened, within me and around me. Then one day, this day, in fact, it all happened. This idea, that idea, this nutrition workshop, that writing job. This song, that person. It was at this cafe, actually it was Sonic Kitchen Cafe in Boscombe, that all of these things happened at once. And it was as I left that it hit me. I had been endlessly debating the concepts of “moving on” as opposed to “running away” (I am of the former camp, though it is often suggested to me that they are one in the same) and pouring over maps, both cognitive and geographical, looking for this new home, to rekindle those old feelings. But here it was, clear as a Scottish highland spring.
Belonging. That is what I am searching for, I suppose that is what we are all searching for, and also what to an extent we may be running from, missing, seeking, mourning the loss of, dreaming of attaining. Those of us who are lucky enough first experience belonging in our family units as children. You might be blessed enough to retain this bond throughout adulthood, by which time, of course you will have developed new communities to which you belong; relationships, friends, various social networks. I believe that this is why facebook, twitter and other social media are so popular and so functional; yes, it may seem like many of us are procrastinating, wasting our time, talking rubbish on a daily basis, but we are belonging. We create our own virtual worlds, we let in whom we choose, we exclude that and those which we do not wish to experience, and this of course is both a drawback and a delight when comparing the virtual social network with the real life one. I also believe that the people who complain that they loathe facebook, for example, are so vehemently opposed to it because they do not experience this sense of belonging, either through lack of desire to become so, but more likely because they do not have the resources (the friends) to make this possible.
You can experience the delirious deliciousness of the new and exciting on your own doorstep. All you need is an open heart and a willingness to welcome the ideas and dreams of others into your heart to dance with your own. Belonging is about acceptance, the desire to give of yourself and the love of being touched by the energy of others. There can, for me, be no more rewarding human experience.