40. lessons from the road…thoughts on community

Wow, I’m on my last full day with my band, on “tour” in LA. We’ve been here on the West Coast for about one week now and it’s been an intense experience.

I’m generally a solitary person. I like to keep to myself. If I’m not cruising somewhere by myself, I like to hang with just a few good friends rather than being in a big, crowded place. Meeting new people stresses me out and this trip has been nothing but meeting new people. We’ve been staying at band members’ family/friends’ houses/apartments on this trip and so in addition to meeting new people, I’ve had to live with them as well…which is stress on top of stress because I don’t dig staying in other people’s homes. (Staying at the Clone-Twins apartment was an exception…that was supah cool, thanks guys.)

On top of this, whenever we’ve played shows, we’ve gotten to meet lots of new people. Playing in the mainland has been a trip in that the crowd response has been totally different from Hawaii. People just come up to you after the show (even while you’re trying to pack up) and start pelting you with questions and comments. We’ve also been selling CDs at our shows and we’ve been selling out! As we speak, I’m furiously burning new copies. Again, new people equals stress for me so selling CDs and having people ask me to autograph them is cool but at the same time, not my favorite thing in the world.

I’ve lived at home all my life. I’ve got really cool parents. We’re not close by any means but they give me a lot of freedom and they’ve always supported me in whatever I’ve put my hands to. I know we’re going to be moving to Cali sometime next year and as much as I’ve learned about myself on this trip, I know I’ll have to learn so much more then but over all, it’s been a good thing.

Donald Miller, Lauren F. Winner, and other postmodern Christian writers have said that living as part of a community (not just a family, but as a part of a larger social structure including but not limited to the church) is an essential part of what it is to be a human being. This is something that we’ve lost today.

Even as the internet connects people, it also isolates them. The ease of e-mail makes communication effortless but something is lost when pen and paper fail to meet (I almost miss the process of deciphering difficult handwriting…almost). We try to make up for this by using ALL CAPS and italics but not being able to see someone’s handwriting is just one more level of depersonalization between you and the other. And these blogs. What is it about writing what basically amounts to a public diary that’s so attractive? How is it that as we’re winning the battle for privacy and personal space we’re posting our personal thoughts and struggles where everyone can see?

If God has indeed created us in such a way that we require community, then despite our efforts to live otherwise, we will find a way to fulfill that requirement…even as we struggle against it. I think of the movie, Jurassic Park. The scientists designed the dinosaurs on the island to need a certain kind of hormone or chemical to survive – the thought being that if the dinosaurs found a way to escape the island, they would not be out for long. I can’t remember if this was in the movie version but I remember in the book by Michael Crichton, escaped dinosaurs start feeding on a certain kind of plant that allows them to get the chemical/hormone they need.

“Life will find a way,” was one of the ideas of the book. In this case, you could say that, “design will find a way.” In other words, the way that we’ve been designed by God will manifest itself regardless of our efforts to reverse engineer and modify it. As we draw in our social circles closer and closer to ourselves, we find new ways to connect. I mean, geeze, you’re reading this blog on an on-line social networking website! How many people do you know who’ve been bitten by the MySpace bug and need their daily fix?

In the end, once I move up to the mainland with my band and live with them I’m hoping that living in such close contact to other people (a mini-community) will make me more whole of a person. Maybe this is what I’ve been missing all these years. I don’t know, I’ll just have to wait and see.

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