Friday, December 5, 2008

Am I selfish or selfless?

It has just occurred to me that joining a cohousing community has been a paradoxical experience for me. It simultaneously has been one of the most selfish things I've done and one of the most selfless.

In choosing cohousing, I've been selfish. I no longer was willing to settle for mediocrity in my life. A situation that was anything less than the gold standard -- in terms of authentic social relationships, interaction with the natural environment, and so -- just didn't cut it. So I have been feeling happy, actually blissful, ever since I joined Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community.

Yet, at the same time, it has been a demanding process. Just on a simple, housekeeping level, there have been time commitments (planning meetings, etc.).

On an emotional level, there have been rough spots. We have had ample opportunity to practise what we've been learning about compassionate communication. (If you want to find out more about that, I recommend Marshall Rosenberg's excellent book, Nonviolent Communication : A Language of Life.)

It takes fierce commitment for me to listen, really listen, to someone whose behaviour I perceive as difficult or unreasonable. Yet the breakthroughs that our group has enjoyed when we've persevered through a difficult situation have been intensely rewarding.

The other day I saw an enquiry from a woman on an Internet forum about intentional communities or cohousing communities. She was asking if anyone knew of a community that was supportive but that would allow her to keep her life simple, that would not involve time commitments, that would not require meetings, and so on. Well, hello?!? Perhaps she had never heard the saying about pop bottles, "No investment, no return."

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