Community and Isolation – I’m outta whack.

Last night I started a project at home.  It was really fun, and in the fun, I lost track of time and stayed up way too late.  So I’m tired.  And my right index finger is taped to my right middle finger.  There are bound to be typos in here somewhere.  Shut your face.

I finished two meals and started on a third.  I looked up recipes for meals that freeze well and I’m amidst the cooking process.  I will have put together five meals by the end of tonight or tomorrow depending on whether I can work up the energy to hang out with people tonight.  Pork meatloaf (done), chicken and black bean burritos (done), turkey chili (halfway done), rice and cheese casserole (not started), beef/pork meatball casserole (not started).  These five meals should last more than a week.

And you ask yourself why.  Becky works many afternoons, and I want to maximize the fun time I have with my daughter and wife.  I LOVE cooking, but I don’t want to always take the time to cook when I could be spending that time with them.  This gets the cooking out of the way.  The only thing to do is reheat, then voila, a homecooked meal we can eat together around the dinner table.

I value the time around the table more than I value my own enjoyment of cooking (which I assure you is substantial).

I’ve become reclusive.  Somewhat by design.  Somewhat by circumstance.  I spend most of my time at work.  The rest of my time is dedicated primarily to family and second to church events.  “Hanging Out” has practically slipped from my vocabulary.  I don’t really like it, but at the same time, I’m comfortable in this pattern of isolation.  It allows me to not talk about the things that are bothering me.  It allows me to choose escape because no one questions me.  It allows me to deftly wear a mask of determination and happiness even when I don’t really feel that way.

And yet, it occurs to me that while things are cozy, there is a lack of movement.  There are no ideas.  You can see the slide into my isolationist state just by looking at this blog.  Several weeks ago, I was regularly posting twice or more a week.  In addition, I wrote several posts for a forthcoming co-authored blog I’m working on.  Last week, I posted nothing.

It’s not like nothing has happened.  My dad’s recovering from a crazy surgery.  Ariella did multiple Vacation Bible Schools and completed swim lessons.  I did worship in the round with Tim and Julia.  My friends went to Haiti.  Becky and I went to Florida.  All of these could have and should have spawned ideas, but all went unaddressed.  Why?  Because I didn’t talk about them much except with Becky, with whom I mostly keep thoughts private and confidential.

Here’s the part where the message comes in.  We’re not built to live in isolation.  Conflict results in thought and if you stay in a conflict-free bubble, your chances for original ideas are stifled.  Progress is muted.  Staleness is likely, as confortable as that may be.  So, you may have to be vulnerable.  You may have to make sacrifices with your time.  You may have to learn to enjoy your daughter AND hang out with your friends while your wife is working (this is my next mission).

They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.  Gotta get on that one, too.

How are you complacent?  How do you overcome?

This is not related, but a good read.

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One thought on “Community and Isolation – I’m outta whack.

  1. Being a full time teleworker, I can relate a lot to this post. It was a HUGE change when Tina & I moved to NC and knew only 1 person, who was still 45 mins away. Taking away the social interaction of work and the convenience of having a lot of friends nearby was a challenge. I was depressed for a quite awhile. Back then, I could go weeks without leaving the house… Tina & I became a little materialistic and tied up in consumerism, because the easiest way to go out was to go shopping. I decided to find a hockey rink and that was my gateway to socializing in the area. I happened to fall into a community of roller hockey players in the area. I’ve joked that the hockey rink is my church. If you strip out all the dogma, really the concept is the same (social gathering to share ideas and believe in a common good). At first everything was about hockey, but the more I got to know them, the more things went beyond hockey and people started to become true friends. Now the whole community is a second family. But, as things change, having a child for example, it’s much more effort to maintain the social aspect. You have to be motivated to keep those relationships alive and actively seek their time. Many times, it can be at the sacrifice of home time. But, I know for me to live a balanced life, I need to socialize, although family should always come first. I say should because as much as I try, I can be selfish. I’m a multi-tasker by nature, and many times I try to do too much at once. So, I’ve been much better recently to seek people out and also to invite them into my home. I’ve also gotten to know my neighbors better. For my longtime friends, it’s much more about planning; football tailgates, camping trips, etc. In the end, I feel more energized and excited by life because I’m in balance.

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