Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Social Gatherings

This is a rough one for me because I am an introvert and avoid parties and such whenever possible. Yet, I know the value of social gatherings as a way to build connection. I've often gone to political demonstrations as much to see people I know (that I know will be there) as to support the cause. And I have been going to many meetings and gatherings over the last couple of years as a way to meet people who have my values. (As I have put it in the past, I don't always enjoy doing it, but I keep going.)

One of the main types of social gatherings is various forms of celebration. I think there is a human need to celebrate with others--sometimes with those you know and sometimes with those you don't know. When a political milestone is reached (an election, the end of a war, when the Berlin wall came down), when a sports team wins, or when some unexpected, joyful thing happens (captives are freed, a person in difficulty is rescued, etc) there is often spontaneous celebrations in the streets. Here it is reinforcing that lots of people you don't know are also celebrating this event.

Social gatherings also include sports events, concerts and music festivals (from Woodstock to Lollapalooza), and the theatre, and often includes things like protests and marches (as I mentioned above), meetings of all kinds, and church services. In the latter examples, the focus is on something different, but in addition to their primary purpose, these are all social gatherings--ways to connect people and make them feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Some big events that I've been to in the last few years include WitchCamp and Starwood. Both of them were growth experiences for me--and, I think, for many of the participants.

We need social gatherings in order to grow and connect with others. They are reaffirmations of our interconnections and a taste of community. In fact, for many people, they are community.


Resources:
Burning Man--The organizers call it "an annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and self-reliance"; it happens each year for a week in the Nevada desert and has become famous (perhaps infamous) for its art and culture; the organizers also claim that when it's over they leave "no trace whatsoever"
How to Socialize Smoothly--Mostly useful advice for the shy and introverted about how to socialize at gatherings; I don't endorse all the advice, particularly the idea you should get your clothing at "K-Mart, Target, and Walmart" (!!!)--please don't!
List of largest peaceful gatherings in history--Wikipedia entry enumerating some huge social gatherings
Carolyn Pogue, Treasury Of Celebrations--An anthology of ideas on how to create celebrations "that truly nourish the human spirit, express our solidarity with all the earth's people, and respect the environment"
Rainbow Gathering--An annual event organized by a leaderless group known as
Rainbow Family of Living Light; it is held at the beginning of July each year on public land, usually a National Forest; while this group has no official positions, they emphasize love, peace, non-violence, non-consumerism, non-commercialism, consensus decision making, and diversity; the US Forest Service is not always delighted about the event
Nancy Twigg, Celebrate Simply--A sourcebook on making holidays and other celebrations less expensive and exhausting; "a journey to simpler celebrations expressive of your values and unique personality"

Quote of the Day: "At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. ...
"I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal... should demand the denial of life and joy." - Emma Goldman (Apparently this passage is the source of the quote she never actually said about if she couldn't dance...)

2 comments:

Michaelann Bewsee said...

I'm an introvert living an extrovert's life-- at least during the day, when I'm organizing, and during evening meetings. Once I go home, I'm likely to speak to no one except my cats!

I do feel the need for more social gatherings but I never feel lonely. Yet I know I need more balance.

I'm finding your recent posts stir some disquiet in me-- I think that's a good thing!

MoonRaven said...

Thanks for your comment, Michaelann. It's great that you do all the organizing that you do. And, yes, balance is key--I'm glad you get some space at home.

You end with an intriguing observation--I'd love to hear what kind of disquiet my posts are stirring. I certainly do hope it's a good thing.