Where’s My Tribe?

Q: I realized tonight working at my job in Dispatch, that there is no one around me that I can call my ‘tribe’. There’s no one who can relate to my interests in metaphysics, or who is willing to talk about spirituality, or even to commiserate with about how life is going. It’s all pretty lonely. I just do my job, feeling mostly okay about it, but also slightly uncomfortable. I am not sure what to do about it. I yearn for a good conversation, or just somebody I feel comfortable with. The people who work there have been there for years. I think I am well liked so maybe I am just going through a rough patch. I am sure you must feel this way at times too. How do you cope with this everyday 3D stuff?

A: Your complaint, if you don’t mind my calling it that, is a common one. But it’s real, and almost everyone I know (including me) feels like you do, at least some of the time. And it is not simply a matter of the grass being greener over yonder.

I think that our tribe is everywhere and nowhere – hidden in plain sight yet most visible when the ordinary is running in the background – like how we take the moon for granted, but stare at it in amazement during an eclipse. Our metaphysical tribe may very well be what one of my teachers once called one of the ‘scattered brotherhoods’ – like First Nations People and others before them.

When I moved from huge Los Angeles to tiny Mt. Shasta I was sure I would find my tribe. I loved the time I spent there, but I couldn’t say that it was because I had found the metaphysical mecca I imagined it would be. Like everywhere else, people there were concerned with jobs, the climate, living situations and relationships. I live in Ashland, Oregon now – a small, progressive town that supports the arts and the environment. I have made a few good friends here, but if my tribe is here, they are as elusive as ever.

Recently, I had occasion to visit Oklahoma City, near the heartland of the country and home of whomever coined the phrase, conservative midwestern values. And you know what? I overheard a conversation between two friends who had known each other forever – and they were talking about how they felt like outsiders. So maybe what you are feeling is a sign of the global times we are living in — we are all connected to everyone and everything, but feel more isolated than ever.

I cope with these symptoms in a variety of ways: I am committed to living a grounded (human) spiritual life, so I practice being present in the here and now as much as possible. (Of course, making this commitment means I will screw it up daily, but that’s where the human part comes in). I am an avid reader and often explore several subjects at once. I attend local events like author talks and I practice meditation at a Tibetan Buddhist center. I shop where I think my choices matter and stay in touch with friends and like-minded people over the Internet. I share my thoughts with others, but keep personal opinions to myself unless they are invited or appreciated, and I remind myself (often) to stay detached from beliefs – especially the kind that make me feel I am right, entitled, smarter, or better than anyone else. I work hard at something every week, because I don’t want my mind or my body to get too soft. I spend time in contemplation, and sometimes, like you, in isolation.

And on any given day I am greeted by or captured by a wide variety of thoughts and emotions – from the best to the worst kind – so I try not to take them too seriously. How? By staying rooted in 3D and taking most of my cues from Nature. And from there, I reach for the stars.

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