In an era of extreme rootlessness, how do we forge belonging?
What stands out to me here is that you aren’t rural, and you haven’t grasped the importance of family. Not many generations before me, 80% of North Americans lived on family farms. You talk of wanting to put down roots-in Vancouver. You compare it to Toronto, London, Dublin. GET OUT OF TOWN, woman! And if you want a tribe: make your own. That’s what all tribes start out as: a big family. And finally: get involved helping others. Volunteer. Make it your living. Those become your ‘tribe’ too. The
I grew up in Peterborough, the daughter of a man born in a 2- room shanty on the Saskatchewan prairie, brother to 10, a mother who was born in a farmhouse on the edge of the bush in Alice Township near Pembroke, sister to 5. I had aunts and uncles whose farms I regularly stayed at. I share the world with a legion of cousins; could likely freeload my way around this globe. My Christmas cards encircle my dining room-but one wall is from charities my husband and I donate to. My current residence is a hobby farm on a backroad in NB, where it’s quiet enough to hear the wind sigh through the raven’s wings overhead. My other residence is a cottage on the Madawaska River south of Eganville, which will become our sole Canadian home within a year or 2: the kids and grandkids are within 2 hours of it. Cities are man-made. Get out of that puny self-important jangle and clash and marvel at the immensity of the REAL world, and the amazing handiwork of our Creator.
I have found that, if I have a bit of forest to call my own, that gives me a sense of belonging. I’ve been a member of human communities in the past (environmental activist groups, Quaker groups, interfaith contemplative-prayer groups, and friendly neighborhoods), but even though I found my connection to these past groups to be pleasant, they never gave me a sense of belonging in the way that a “belonging to a forest” does. Maybe in my next life I will be a tree. : )
What nice writing...precise and compelling. I subscribed to Lean Out to expose myself (is that now a dirty, triggering expression?) to your perspectives which are so different from mine. No Conservative could have written such prose. Beautiful job, Tara.
Great story but not for me - I am way way too much of a news political junkie to give that up - on the other hand being away from twitter would greatly improve my mental health 😝
Tara, it took me a while, but I finally read your essay, "Madeleine L'Engle Taught Me the Universe Has Meaning," which you hyperlinked in this essay. I loved this essay, but when I read your story about your friendship with Mutang in Borneo, my heart felt pierced. Thank you for including the link, in this essay, to your older piece. Truly, a work of art! Thank you for honoring Mutang. Now I feel like I have an invisible connection to him also.
As they say “home is where the heart is”.
But living in other countries and working within the local culture can be eye opening, teach some good old grit, and help one learn how to accept others and the cultural differences. I say so cause my 15-16 years in South Korea (2003 to 2019) were fabulous. Thanks to former BC Education Minister Christy Clark for her cutbacks that spurred me overseas.
I wonder how something that sounds so practical can be so impractical.