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Volume 16, Issue 1 ~ January 3 - January 9, 2008


Community Is Us

This holiday season has given us belliesful of good cheer. Gathering with friends, neighbors, family and friends of family to eat, drink and be merry has been holistic medicine for hearts hardened by a year of Scrooging.

The Indispensable Guide to Holiday Fun brought out by Bay Weekly before Thanksgiving has kept us out and about, enjoying many of the festivities you created to brighten the season. In every case, high as our anticipation was, we’ve gotten more than we hoped for. People coming together — to make art or to make a party — produces energy that illuminates everybody in the gathering.

We ended the season of celebration New Year’s Day at North Beach’s Polar Bear Plunge. There, on a sunny day balmier than we have any right to expect this time of year, 400 people laughed and cheered as 150 bathers stripped down to gooseflesh (and sometimes little more) to bound into Chesapeake Bay. Wet or dry, we were united in a community of interest by the purpose and pleasure we shared.

It’s a lot of work to pull together a plunge, produce a play, sing the Messiah or organize a walk in the woods. It’s a lot of trouble to harvest all those potatoes growing on our couches. Yet the lesson we’ve learned this season is that the time and effort invested in bringing us together is repaid with delight. We smile, applaud or cheer, share a conspiratorial grin with equally enthralled strangers, maybe even say hello. We’re all together in this we think, breaking down the walls of isolation. Wouldn’t it be nice, to borrow a Beach Boys line, if we could keep the spirit flowing into 2008 — instead of giving into the same old grind?

Heavens to Jimmy Buffett! Have we lost our serious purpose? We’ve got work to do.

We were pondering the passing of good times when neighbor Farley Peters passed us a paragraph she’d borrowed for her New Year’s resolution from Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, the poet laureate of Toronto.

We will not save the environment until we have found a reason for living together. … In an era that glorifies independence, we are shy of admitting the awful truth: that is, we are dependent on each other … because we are one body breathing the same air. Until we discover civic care in each other … we will not have sustainability. The enemy is the absence of civic communion, the lack of empathic citizenship, our inability to see cohabitation as that place were we enjoy ourselves, by enjoying others.

Aha! We can’t imagine a better justification for letting the good times roll on in 2008. So keep partying and keep plunging. It’s good for us. It’s how we build communities.

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