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Community Green: Who is in our tribe?

By Pamela Noel

Special to Plumas News

In the times in which we are living, some of us are developing a new perspective on what it is to be alone, to be separated from our usual social interactions, and to consider who is important in our lives. We are making do with communicating virtually. We are making do with a wave across the street, or the making an effort of smiling beneath a mask. (Do they really know that I am smiling under here?)

As I was thinking about this, the word “tribe” came to mind. I wondered who was still in my tribe, and what does this mean? Looking up the word in the dictionary, the definition that made the most sense was “a group of persons having a common, character, occupation, or interest.” That could cover a lot of territory; leaving a lot of space in which to establish one’s tribe.

My idea of who I choose to be in my life has come into focus these last months. To whom do I reach out when I want to make a phone call? Who do I think about as I lie awake at night, hoping they are doing well? Who do I imagine camping with when all “this” falls behind us?

And how did I develop my tribe? What criteria do I use to establish a certain “friend” possibility? True, sometimes, a common occupation could be the open door that we both initially walked through, putting us in the same place at the same time. Or maybe a class that we both attended brought us together. Or a party or other event, where we ended up in the same corner — two introverts finding one another. There are a variety of reasons that occur for how we discover a friend. Perhaps a worship gathering or a sport in which you both engage, starts the ball rolling.

It doesn’t really matter to me what the “reason” is. What I notice about who remains in my tribe, is a certain intimacy that develops. And this intimacy, for me, is usually the result of a deepening relationship brought about through a willingness to be vulnerable … a willingness to share that part of oneself that may be unsure, fearful, or spontaneously silly about something. A part of me that can truly be authentic in the presence of another, regardless of how I seem to others Is what I want with a friend. This part of me is accepted and cared for as an important aspect of who I am — the good, bad, and otherwise.

So, in this time of shifting our friendship circles, due to outer events, we also have the opportunity to open ourselves to expand and shift our circle, acknowledging what it is that is important to us in a friendship, which, when linked with others, makes our tribe. We need them more than ever — whether our tribe exists as part of our geographic community, our online community, or at the other end of a phone call on the other side of the globe.

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