Embracing ’emptiness’

Upon the recommendation of a good friend after hearing my ideas for a commune, I have been reading ‘The Different Drum: The Creation of True Community’ (Dr. M. Scott Peck) and I have to say, one of the things which really struck me was his emphasis on ’emptiness’ as a measure towards the creation of community.

Peck proposes that in creating a community, the stages which have regularly been identified by psychologists and such are

  • Pseudocommunity (where everyone goes around trying to be inoffensive and nice and make things work by making generalisations and not yielding many truths)
  • Chaos (the point shortly after enough resentment has built up at the falsity of pseudocommunity for one person to speak out, joined by another, and another, and another, until everyone unburdens their own ideas and thinks their way is the best way forward (at this stage of the community-making, beware of those who would seek to lead or organise, for true community is led by all)
  • Emptiness (where people look inside themselves and get rid of the barriers to community)
  • Community (where everyone is ‘for’ one another, trusts one another, is able to be completely emotionally honest, be vulnerable and experience the love and joy of true community)

The emptiness intrigued me.

I don’t consider myself to be a particularly prejudiced person, but on closer examination I see there would be a heck of a lot I’d need to empty out of myself before I was able to live in harmony with others.

E.g.

  1. Many expectations for ‘how things should be done’ around the house (husby will attest to this)
  2. Am something of an intellectual snob
  3. Struggle to find things to appreciate about certain groups of people (those hugely into fashion, the rich playboy/dirl types, celebrities, Boy Racers, the rude)
  4. Difficulties with just being there for people and sharing their worries, anxieties and hurts
  5. Consistent need to have a smart answer
  6. Desire to fix things myself

 …and so on.

I have especial difficulty with Other People in Cars. Particularly whilst I am driving. The problem? I expect everyone to drive competently and with etiquette (as I imagine myself to do). So when people are incompetent and do bizarre things or are impolite, it gets to me and I feel bad. Doesn’t do anything to them. I begin to see the point of the ’emptying’ – had I not the expectation, it could not be disappointed.

But then…if I have no expectations of anyone to do anything the right way, where would the passion be to make things work? This is where communities come in (I think) for in small ways, small groups committed to supporting one another, we can obtain the social support so needed and so neglected in day-to-day life. Communities can run in opposition to The System (which if not actively out to get people, certainly seems out to frustrate their best efforts), providing the nurture which it inherently lacks.

Still, some internal work to be done before I’m ready for that yet.

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