September 6, 2014

Who Are Your People?

We love the idyllic scenery around Digby, but we love the people here more.


A year or two ago Linda and I were sitting on a beach in our neighbourhood. A truck pulled up and parked. The driver, an older, energetic man, hopped out and joined us. After talking for a while he asked about Linda's wheelchair.

We told the gentleman that Linda had MS and that I had quit teaching in 2000 and was now taking care of her full time. He was very sympathetic and told us that he had friends with the same condition so he was familiar with the challenges of our situation.

Then he asked, "Who are your people?"

I asked him what he meant. He elaborated saying "who are the ones that you can depend on in a time of need? Who has your back when things get rough?"

Linda and I looked at each other. "Who are our people? Do we have people?"

Our new friend looked at us seriously as we pondered his question. Linda and I are both "so damn independent", as my father complained once, so we shrugged our shoulders and looked back at the man.

Most of our "people" were spread across the country, we explained. We were from away. "Not good enough", was his response. "You need people here."

There will come a time when every single person on our little planet will need the help of others. First of all, we are soft and vulnerable organisms. So much can go wrong that it is a wonder to be celebrated that anyone is healthy for any length of time.

We are also social creatures, introverts and extroverts alike. That is the way the human species rolls. As Tom Jones said, "Everybody needs somebody sometime".

Our new home came complete with 'people', although this fact wasn't advertised in the For Rent ad. Maybe it should have been because it is a major asset.

We are in a unit that is one of several on a rural property of several hundred acres 10 km from the sea, and on the highest point in the county. It is owned by wonderful people with extended family sharing the land. They are among the nicest, most generous and supportive groups of people I have experienced.

I thought of 'having people' and our beach conversation this week as Linda and I found ourselves in a situation in which help was definitely required. It was tough and it was scary.

These recent events have got me to thinking about that man on the beach. He was right. We needed people, we needed them here, and we needed them now.

And boy did they come through. Not just our fine, fine neighbours here on the farm, but also good folks from the town of Digby. Wonderful, inspirational and compassionate people have surrounded us and are carrying us through our current challenge on a Fundy-sized rising tide of love.

Because of all the support we have discovered over the past week we are fine.

Still, I missed my other people - all of you here in the NBA community. After years of regular posting and keeping in touch with you here or on email, I was missing that contact.

You are also my people, and I would like to think Linda and I are yours, because 'having people' is good, but 'being people' is just as important.

The only way we will survive what is sure to be a tumultuous ride over the next hundred years or so, will be to have strong social networks in cohesive, cooperative and compassionate simple living communities focused on resilience.

I would say that here on NBA we have already started on that project.

Thank you. It feels good to be back.

24 comments:

  1. Gregg:

    I am glad to hear that you and Linda have made it through your recent rough patch. I had one myself this week and, thanks to my great family, made it through relatively (pun intended!) unscathed. Yes, we do need our peeps to watch out for us and the wonderful thing is, we can then do the same for them. It just proves once again how our lives are interconnected and how we can made a difference. This is the true richness of life, not mere possessions.

    Sophie

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    1. Sophie,

      You got it. We are all one - humanity, nature, the cosmos. One. The pursuit of wealth and possessions is a distraction that cuts us off from the real wealth that is accessible and free to all who choose it - the celebration of life, each other and everything around us. All interconnected, all one.

      Happy to hear you have overcome, and with the support of loved ones. Together we are strong.

      Delete
  2. The two of you are truly an inspiration. I think of you often whenever I get into a rough patch. Your ability to adapt to many different circumstances while still keeping a positive attitude is admirable. I also think of your pastoral view out your window whenever I hear the busy-ness of the city sounds outside mine. Oh to hear just the peaceful sounds of nature.

    I'm so glad you and Linda got help when you needed it. I have found support and inspiration within the blogging community both from online friends that I've never met as well as ones that I've actually met in person. They have made such a difference in my life as I don't really have family that has ever supported me in the same way. In fact it was always the opposite. They needed more emotional investment from me than what I was able to give. I like to think of our little family as independent, but sometimes it helps to hear someone else say, "Don't worry. It will all be okay."

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    1. Clamco,

      The words "Don't worry. It will all be okay." can make a huge difference.

      If I remember my first aide training, I do believe those are the exact words to say someone in need as soon as you get to their side. It is instant relief and reassurance. It is mental morphine.

      Blogging has exceeded all my initial expectations, and has provided Linda and I with so much support and satisfaction. It has enabled us to reach out far and wide during a time that physical mobility issues have been somewhat restricting.

      It was through blogging that I discovered your amazing family unit. We watched you closely when your family did your big move. It gave us strength to do one of our own. I love what you have been doing with your furniture lately. Your projects are giving us ideas now that we are looking for a few more things to make our home comfortable.

      Delete
  3. Wondered where you'd got to, and hoped all was well. This was a profound post for me - as immigrants to Canada, we are without family. Cadets and school require more persons of contact on the forms than just our children's parents so we've had to find "our people" where we are and ask if it's ok to put their names on the forms.

    Sounds like you've found a wonderful place.

    J

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    1. J.,

      We had a little (unintended) break which turned into a life-affirming, health-promoting situation. Family is our basic support, but so many of us are far from our original homes. I believe it is very healthy to reach out to your community.

      Canada, like so many other places, has changed when it comes to our sense of community. We are more isolated from each other compared to when I was a kid in the 1970s. Today we are too busy working, shopping, and sitting in front of screens to even get to know the neighbours next door. It can feel very isolating.

      Any time Linda and I reach out to our various communities we invariably meet amazing, caring people. It is always an uplifting experience. I hope that your efforts to find your people in your own community have been successful - it sounds like they have been.

      Delete
  4. Dear Gregg and Linda,

    I follow your blog faithfully (although I don't very often post a comment), and was wondering where you have been. Glad you're fine and there were people who helped you in your time of need. Also, happy to see you posting again.

    What a wonderful place you have found to live. People are so important. We all need a village :)

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    1. Karen,

      This place is truly a treasure, and the good folks here are helping ease Linda and I into the next stage of our lives together.

      I never know which posts will elicit comments - it is always interesting to find out. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this one.

      Delete
  5. Agree with We are: Clamo, "you two are truly an inspiration....ability to adapt...keeping a positive attitude is admirable." Couldn't say it any better.

    Also agree that there is a robust support community here on NBA. In addition, we do need "our people" here on the ground.

    I flunked the resilience test on Yes! Magazine you linked to and knew I would going in. I've been working on it, resilience that is. There are some promising connections incubating just now actually. I loved reading the suggestions for becoming more resilient after the test. I hadn't framed it that way before. Some of those are easy and do-able in my living situation. It made me feel more secure just reading them.

    Strangers we meet can impart profound wisdom. Some of their messages have been like a tectonic shift in my life. Even the conversation with the stranger/new friend you share is quite relevant in my life. Thank you for sharing that conversation.

    People are a major asset, all through life.

    Warms the heart to hear how people in your new community have risen to help overcome the crisis! Makes easing into the changes SO MUCH EASIER. People matter.

    Terri

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    1. Just reread and Yes, You and Linda are my people. I find this inspiring space you've created to be very supportive of my values.

      Then this quote came to mind:

      You could apply it to any kind of scary event--

      'Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: "My mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world."' (I got the quote from snopes, but it is all over the internet.)

      Looking for helpers in scary situations comforts me too. It grounds me and reminds me I'm not alone. It makes the scary stuff not seem as harsh. It also gives me something to do, something to focus on when I am feeling helpless over life happenings.
      Terri

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    2. Terri,

      That is such a great and comforting story, and so very, very true.

      I have been thinking lately, "If the world is so messed up, how come I keep meeting such incredible people?"

      Where are all the destroyers, the selfish, the rude, the cold-hearted individuals that are making decisions that have made our world the rough place it is today? If all the people I have met in my life were in charge the world would be a kinder more compassionate and saner place for all.

      At each decision juncture we need to ask if we are HELPING or HINDERING efforts to improve conditions for ourselves and everyone else.

      Delete
    3. Gregg and Linda, I too like "fingerprints of goodness" you mention in comment below. Glad I came back here. What a wonderful virtual community here on NBA, such caring people. So many of us knew something was unusual and we all sincerely miss you guys and were worried and want to help.

      Yes, does make you wonder about how come we meet such good people when so much is astray with the world. So true, there are people who make the world a better place...and if they were in charge, it would be kinder more compassionate and saner place for all.

      I have a special appreciation for Linda and your situation. Last week, a friend of mine fell, broke bones, had to be hospitalized. She's home now. I've been going daily to help with things she can no longer do, bathing, caring for her dog, household chores, etc. It is an extraordinary undertaking both in what I am learning to do (how to help and not hinder, well put by you) and in her allowing me and others to care and assist. Neither side is easy.

      Remarkable how "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." comforts. I was pretty overwhelmed when I first started helping my friend, then stepped back for a look at the situation. It was then I saw so many other people who are helping. All together, we are taking care of her of her every need. Mr. Roger's mother's quote brings tears to my eyes.

      You say things in posts and comments that are quotable and work like mantras for me. This is a very supportive, positive, helpful blog. You are certainly a helper in efforts to make the world a better place. I'm convinced now that it truly does start with each one of us figuring our own selves out, making a small footprint space and then scattering it with others we meet wherever we go.

      Thank you and Linda so much for conceiving the idea of this blog and sharing your fingerprints of goodness with so many.

      Terri

      Delete
  6. Maritimers are good people. :)

    -JMacG

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    1. JMacG,

      That is what we are finding out. How refreshing it is to discover that Maritimer's reputation is the reality.

      Delete
  7. Hello, so glad you are back. I was getting quite worried as you usually post so regularly. Also being aware that both of you have health problems. So pleased you found help when you needed it. Your present apartment sounds a life saver for you both. Do hope things work out OK for you both. Frances in the UK.

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    1. Frances,

      Our current challenge do indeed center around our health and physicality. Because of my back injury we are having to make some big changes to how we do everything together. Our new home is certainly accommodating everything we need to do, and now it seems even better than it did before.

      Thank you for your good thoughts. We will keep you posted as to how things work out.

      Delete
  8. I wondered where you were up to...it's good to know that your bad situation led you to feel part of a real community. You were blessed when you found your new home 'by chance' (Hmm) It's good to feel part of an internet community of like minded people, but great to know there is someone close by, 'watching your back'. I'm sure your and Linda's chance will come to help in return.

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    1. CharlotteP,

      I have always thought it would be sad to leave somewhere (or worse - die) and have no one realize you are gone.

      I want to leave fingerprints of goodness everywhere I go, and I will never forget the people who are leaving their fingerprints on our lives right now. Both people far away, and those in close proximity to us.

      Thank you.

      Delete
    2. That's a lovely way of putting it, 'fingerprints of goodness'! I will remember that. You and Linda are leaving them all around the world, courtesy of your blog. Thank YOU!

      Delete
  9. You were missed. I had a feeling something was amiss. So glad that folks showed up in every way when needed.

    We've had a bit of a crisis here as well and people were wonderful in their support.

    People DO need people. What a blessing when "our people" show up physically, emotionally and virtually.

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    1. Miss Marla,

      Humanity has such a capacity for love and compassion. It is nice when it is realized in concrete ways in our daily life.

      We find that we don't have to carry the burden of such heavy responsibilities alone. When we learn to trust and relax more, we find that the universe takes care of us.

      Glad you are getting the support you need. We are here for each other.

      Everything will be okay (that is my mantra for now).

      Delete
    2. I once heard of a man, who was suffering with cancer, who would answer the question "How are You?" by saying "All is well, that can be well." So that's my answer for now "All is well, that can be well."

      Sending Love and Positive Energy!

      Delete
  10. Back here nine months after you posted this because this post comes to mind often and did again tonight. I mentioned in comments that I was working on some new things regarding making new friendships that seemed promising. It's working!

    Today when I traveled a bumpy spot in life, I thought "Who are my people?" A small list of folks came to mind instantly. This is more than I could have listed nine months ago.

    You might like to know that when that bumpy spot showed up today, I thought of this blog and later came here to read....because this blog is "my people." It's calming and comforting to read here. Ah, there are others are on a similar path as I am.

    Thanks so much now and always.

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    Replies
    1. We are so happy that you consider this a place of comfort. It is for us as well. A bit of sanity among like-minded folks.

      Also happy that you have found people locally. Since we have arrived in Digby we have seen quite graphically how important it is to be part of something larger - a bigger team that can help one another. You are fortunate to have found a small list - precious progress.

      Thanks for sharing your success with all of us. I find hope in that.

      Delete

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