As I’ve alluded to previously, I left my career as a political aid at the end of the Canadian federal election in October 2019. Without being sure of what would come next, I knew that I needed to rest, to grieve, and to heal.
I knew, too, that I craved community – something that seems pretty difficult to achieve for an introvert with trust and self-worth issues, who no longer had her workplace community to rely on. Let alone trying to navigate all those barriers during a pandemic.
Without a work from home or young family, or a pet in need of care to regulate me, maintaining any kind of schedule or plan, or even a plan to devise a plan, felt next to impossible. The energy expended on sourcing pantry items, cleanser, hand sanitizer, masks, bringing an adult child home from university for an unknown duration, and learning to navigate my physical space now that it was shared with two others full time took all my energy and left me exhausted.
I’m told dysregulation is a natural response to the trauma of the times we’re living in. I have natural response by the boatloads.
Finding community is pretty much impossible given all that.
Or so one would think.
With so many people now relying on e-commerce, inventory systems, tracking systems, and delivery systems are so overloaded that an item commonly delivered within a couple of days is now taking weeks.
It took ten weeks and 4 online orders (3 of them cancelled because the online inventory that said the product was available was not up to date) to source a second office chair for our downstairs office that would enable my stepson to finish his university assignments and use the computer in comfort, to finally be available for curbside pickup. Three days before he returned to Montreal.
It is, at least, a lovely chair.
This week, it feels like all my online order ships are coming in at once, like an old-fashioned Christmas with the doorbell ringing constantly and being presented with packages. Two by Purolator with art supplies, one by Canpar fulfilling an order I made an unbelievable five weeks ago, one by UPS from Australia that came in a record week when domestic mail on that continent is taking over a month, and another by Canada Post Priority Mail.
And all that by mid-week.
In addition to those expected deliveries, I received an envelope this afternoon that was unexpected. Well, not quite unexpected. I had been told it was on the way five weeks ago and forgotten. It was this small and precious gift that made me realize community had come to me.
Prior to the pandemic stay at home, on one of our regular forays to the lovely town of Almonte, Ontario and a stop at Mill Street Books, one of our favourite independents. It’s a rare visit that doesn’t have us leaving with at least a couple of books and/or pieces of vinyl to spin. On that day, I picked up Draw Breath: the Art of Breathing by Tom Granger.
In early April, lockdown in full swing, I posted an Instragram story about the book and sent Tom a message saying how much I appreciated it, and later, a congratulations on the book winning the Nautilus Book Award for innovation and creativity. Tom sent a note thanking me for my support and asking for my address so he could send a little gift to thank me for my encouragement. (see photo above)
I am touched by the personal interactions that happen on Instagram. It has become one of my communities. It allows me to stay in touch with people I have met and worked with on soul goals, people I have only met virtually, and people like Tom, with whom I share something in common.
Instagram has become a community for me.
And it’s not the only one.
The pandemic inspired the smartest and most innovative of entrepreneurs to pivot and provide services online, many of them generously free of charge.
It was as if the universe was dropping breadcrumbs for me to follow the path to my dreams, or at least to discovering what those dreams might be.
And in the process I’ve discovered an amazing community of feminist badasses who recognize that the institutions of capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, and systemic racism do not serve us, and who strive in diverse and creative ways to propose alternatives and to support each other on the journey.
Community comes in the places you least expect it.
I have been welcomed, challenged, invited, called in to these communities, to learn, to explore, to share my experiences and to grow, in creativity, in solidarity and in hope.
Here are some of my favourites, including amazing humans I follow on Instagram who have inspired, entertained, challenged, and taught me so much:
Not bad for an introvert who had trust and self-worth issues who no longer has her workplace community to rely on, let alone trying to navigate all those barriers during a pandemic, eh?
Mind you, I still crave community with skin on. I live in hope of returning to that soon. But now community with skin on has so much more potential than I had first imagined.
From unexpected places.