When we are born, we are automatically welcomed into a tribe. And for most of us, that tribe will remain from first breath to our last. The people who raise us, who grow up with us and who we, in turn, raise. This tribe should be our most important, our bedrock, the one that helps define who we are and who we will become – Nature and Nurture… This tribe will not always be blood tied, sometimes, those we share genes with, aren’t the whanau that will raise us, and send us on our way, but whatever its makeup, this will be our most important tribe..
My extended whanau has tribe members I was born with and many that have arrived in my life. Through them I have learned the power of unconditional love, the healing to be found in uncontrolled laughter, and the peace to be found in shared silence. They are the people that make me who I am, and who shape how I interact with the world..
After the Christchurch Mosque Massacre, I was talking about the reaction felt here in NZ, and its responses, with a friend. They said that the thing they had felt, was how through the momentary unity us kiwis felt, we were still divided by the groups we were in. Our reactions were defined by the tribes that raised us, or that we lived within..
From our first steps, we are unconsciously looking for our other tribes. From that one kid that you found in the sandpit, that laughed with you, to the person you stumble across in your 80s who shares a love of nature with you. I think we are hard wired to find a place that we belong.
But there are other tribes that we belong to. We seek out people with shared interests, and values. Organised religion is on the decline but having been brought up in a religion and now having spent time in rugby club rooms and school halls, I feel the same sense of community and cooperation. Shared interests and common objectives bring people together, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you automatically become a tribe. There is something more indefinable that plays out. Some magic that draws you to the people that you will then travel part or all of your life with…
It isn’t all sunshine or roses though, there is possibly nothing more damaging than your tribe leaving you. Through life you move in and out of tribes, and that is growth and change. But there are times when through choices you make, the tribe will expel you. When you aren’t the one who made the choice, the wrench can leave a scar that may never heal. From the reason they leave – either not accepting something that is at your very core; or being unable to forgive your errors and humanness – to the removal of the support they have given you, the damage can last a lifetime. Some of the very institutions designed to help and support, are the very ones that create the casualties through their dogmatic approach to how people should live. It also leaves people unwilling to seek out new tribes, for fear of rejection, or just being unable to trust in someone else’s acceptance. And some will sadly find the tribe that gives them comfort – but may not make them better people in the long run.. And these are the people the rest of us need to welcome back…
One of my joys, in recent years is to discover in my 50s that it’s still possible to come across people that “click”.. Be they friends of friends, or new work colleagues. Its brilliant to find people that you identify with and who speak the same language you do. And age seems to give you the ability to spot your tribe within a crowded room… Pretty sure I’ll still be gathering people for however long this journey is..
For me, most of my tribes only just overlap. My Whanau remains my base tribe. And it seems to expand every year. But there are my rugby tribe – supporters and some players; my knitting tribe, small but helpful; the people I gather to discuss all things cake and decorating; my cocktail tribe – small but feisty and fun; and of course the people I get drawn to through food and language. Food is my passion (some would say obsession..) and the extension of that is of course feeding people. But I find some of the nicest people in my foodie circle. People who share my open table, feeding both body and soul philosophy..
And words, words, words… I find solace in Wordy folks… They stretch my brain, there is a rhythm found within wordsmiths, that matches mine… Recently I have all but stopped reading novels and have moved to blogs. Very New Millennium. But I find people writing about their everyday lives fascinating. And seeing how “every day” people write, gives me pointers on how to write better. I’m also humbled at the bravery shown by people, who not only are prepared to put their writing up for the public to see, but in some cases share some very real personal battles and life stories. It takes a lot to lay bare your life, and from these new tribes people, I have had the courage to take some new risks too..
And the last tribe I want to hero? Also very New Millennium – the peeps I have met on Social Media.. Never have we been as interconnected as we are now… The WWW has made it possible to meet soul people from all corners of the world. I have contacts now, I consider friends, even though we’ve never met in person. But there is a power in sharing thoughts and ideas that can go both good and bad. But I am learning to not hang out in the negative spaces of Social Media, and have stumbled across a new tribe.. funny, kind, witty, intuitive, generous… and did I mention funny?
So which ever tribe you identify with, and where ever you find them. Hold them close, tell them that they are important in your lives. They are the people that will make your travels around the sun the best they can be..