Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Exploring Personal Frontiers — Mary O'Herin

While I love the pictures of deep space that return to us from the Hubble, and how they riffle the cilia in my imagination, the true frontiers of our time that I turn to for hope and inspiration are the body/mind frontier being explored in neuroscience and energy medicine, and the collective consciousness frontier being explored in psychology, astrology, Buddhism, communication, environmentalism, and probably a few other places as well. Cohousing for me is a choice that feels like a natural off-shoot of my love for these two frontiers, AND a collective endeavor that will deepen my knowledge of both.

Most of the intimacy in my life occurs between myself and one or two people at once. I also feel it to an extent in a few group activities: rowing, ultimate frisbee, an astrology study group. Each of these groups has a consistent core of people that have become known to me enough over time that I feel a warm sense of connection with them, even when there are a few new folks I don't know. My learning curve in each activity is very modest compared to the same curve in felt intimacy. It is the knowing and being known that keeps me returning.

Even just being in the planning and growing phase of cohousing, I already feel the enjoyment of knowing and being known by a cooperating group of people. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I usually pick activities that have a very high freedom factor, where there is little pressure from the group to do anything much beyond your best effort when you are able to be there. I place high value on my freedom and flexibility, and tend to avoid groups that may have high or rigid expectations. I remember looking over the packet of exploring member info that Wendy gave me when I returned. One of the pages described which types of people did well in cohousing. I had to laugh when I read the description of the Maverick. That was me: the very independent self starter who generally did not seek out groups.

I was initially wary of cohousing, thinking it might be the sort of group I peel away from moments after pulling up to the curb: too clubby and rigid. My initial exploration was on the defensive side because of my own edgy fears around groups, control and conformism. Even in groups with a progressive agenda I have experienced regressive control and conformity issues. After my initial involvement 1 1/2 years ago, I dropped out after only 2 1/2 months probably in part due to past group experiences of mixed success, but I think mostly because I wasn't at the time able to give it a fair try. The concurrent psychic/emotional/mental demands in my life with my 2 boys, and getting it together as a split co-parenting family were such that I didn't have much left for a radically new consideration like cohousing.

When I returned about 9 months later I was ready to give it full consideration, and I knew some of the members that had joined since my lapse. I remember walking into the Farm house side door, I was a little late for a General meeting, and literally feeling an impact in my solar plexus: a warm pulsing wave of really nice energy. It caught me so off guard that tears came to my eyes, and I turned around and went back out to my car for a couple minutes to absorb the wave of feeling that the impact had triggered in me. It was all very sweet, and it certainly was my body giving me a big “Yes! We're back.” ( I do rely heavily on my body's wisdom to balance out my reasoning self.)

The first return impression proved to be true. It was great to be back amidst the endeavor to build a cohousing community in mid-coast Maine. It is a vibrant, flexible, creative group of folks who want to create something strong and positive and then spend a long time enjoying it!

1 comment:

  1. Mary,
    Yes,yes...I know...no one makes anyone do anything...but your post made me cry. Thanks for sharing that intimate moment of your return. So sweet!
    Regards,
    Jeffrey

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