It's not the least important, either
This is such an eloquent and thoughtful reflection on the question of belonging, thank you. I read it several times and was struck by the intersections with my current reading of Brené Brown's "Atlas of the Heart" in which she also talks about the difference between fitting in (adjusting yourself) and belonging (accepting yourself). "Because we can feel belonging only if we have the courage to share our most authentic selves with people, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance." You express this so well.
I also returned to Toko-pa Turner's "Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home", a book that I've worked with for several years now. She argues that belonging is a set of skills, not simply a state of being. She has a lovely dedication/blessing at the front that may resonate with some:
"For the rebels and the misfits, the black sheep and the outsiders. For the refugees, the orphans, the scapegoats, and the wierdos. For the uprooted, the abandoned, the shunned and invisible ones.
May you recognize in increasing vividness that you know what you know.
May you give up your allegiances to self-doubt, meekness, and hesitation.
May you be willing to be unlikeable, and in the process be utterly loved.
May you be impervious to the wrongful projections of others, and may you deliver your disagreements with precision and grace.
May you see, with the consummate clarity of nature moving through you, that your voice is ot only necessary, but desperately needed to sing us out of this muddle.
May you feel shored up, supported, entwined, and reassured as you offer yourself and your gifts to the world.
May you know for certain that even as you stand by yourself, you are not alone."
Magnificent piece of writing! Thank you for this beautiful gift.
The two poems are a lovely desert to your reflections. It was the final lines of Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day (Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?) that made my decision to move to Portugal clear.
I cannot express how much I love reading your posts. Your writing takes me away, lifts me and makes me feel like I've found a kindred spirit. I identify so much with many of your thoughts and experiences and take comfort knowing there are others out there who don't fit in, but yet have found their way, their comfort zone. I have never been a joiner, nor ever want to. Thank you for sharing you, and I look forward to more of your wonderful posts.
As always, after reading your post, I feel like I have met a friend at a coffee shop or enjoyed a cup of tea while ¨connecting¨ at a level that is hard to describe. Your way of describing your paradigm is nothing short of remarkable. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Best one yet, so spot on ~ thank you.
This is a great one, friend!
Thank you LaDonna, your email came at a fortuitous time. Yesterday while considering a summer course in Sweden, my daughter expressed concern over being the outsider amongst the other students. I am decades removed from her types of fears, having been the Type Four / Outsider since I can remember. My mind went to Filha and the struggles she still must be facing as the American Girl at school, and I wish I could explain to my daughter the fortifying value of doing Scary Things. Something tells me her 16-year-old sensibilities are not ready for that conversation!