As a kid everything I did was done with my pals. Most was done outdoors: Sledding in the winter, riding bikes in the spring, baseball in the summer, football in the fall. Each of these activities taught me a lot about my childhood buddies. I knew who could be selfish, who was competitive, who was insecure, who had ambition.
I’m not waxing nostalgic for my childhood. Rather, I’m reflecting on the simplicity of childhood relationships. There was no mystery about how friendships were formed. You asked someone to play with you. Unless they has some compelling excuse, like it was dinner time, or they had chores to finish, they would almost always say yes.
The problem with adulthood is the chores are never finished and no one has time to play.
This makes me sad
The older I have become, the more I realize what I need in life. I have discovered it really hasn't changed that much since I was 5 years old.
I need friends I can play with.
I recognize this need in me may be more than the average person requires.
As I became a teen, the involvements of playtime became more complex, especially after puberty. I didn't just want to play ball, I wanted to bond with my friends at a deeply intimate level. I sought out those who experienced music the way I did and who shared a similar aesthetic in almost every other area. I had to know what my pal’s worldview was. Whether or not we could play together depended on whether their worldview lined up with mine.
Now I think of this as “tribe formation.”
In socially diverse American culture, the bonds common to ethnic identification have been fractured, leaving the individual to fend for themselves. I believe the teen years are spent trying to figure out which tribe we belong to. Thankfully, the new tribal definitions no longer rely on the color of one’s skin or ancestral origin. I believe they have more to do with socio-economic class, geographical origin and, as I’ve said, one’s worldview.
Unfortunately, living in a culture that is hyper-focused on individual freedom, coupled with a preoccupation with material success, little time is left growing one’s tribe.
I’m not talking about family, though family is central to tribal formation. No, I’m talking about the deep brotherhood that exists between people who have found one another, who recognize the richness of their commonality and the creative power that exists in their unity.
As I aged I grew out of touch with how important these tribal relationships were. Moreover, I was ignorant of how rare tribal formation is.
Even in the midst of a spiritual quest, we are tempted to be inclusive of all who profess that same desire for truth. I have come to the conclusion that one’s tribe is not based solely on a spiritual journey, but also recognition of other intangibles that make us attracted to one another.
One of the things I have identified in my own life, and apparently this is not a need everyone has, is the need to share as much of my life with others as possible. How rare it has been to find someone as interested in sharing their life with me.
This seems to be the underlying force that motivates my creativity; the desire to experience the intimacy of knowing others as they are known by me.
I understand there are boundaries that must exist. I understand the need for personal space and solitude. What I don’t understand is a society that describes a standard of living defined by almost every ideal except this one: true intimacy.