Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

This past weekend, my family and I traveled to New Mexico to visit family and attend the 2010 Pie Festival. Pie Town, New Mexico is one in a series of tiny communities (and I mean TINY) located in Catron County, New Mexico just west of the Continental Divide. It's where I grew I up. The Pie Fest is an annual event that brings us all back together for food, fun and of course...PIE!  There are horny toad races, pie eating contests,  a pie bake off, sack races, face painting...just good, old fashioned fun.

Chocolate Cherry Delight

Every time we go home, it gets harder and harder to leave. It's funny how I couldn't wait to graduate and get the hell out of there. I had exactly 17 people in my senior class.  We had a four day school week because some kids had to ride over 70 miles ONE WAY on the bus to get to school. I knew everyone and they knew me. I couldn't wait to leave. I was ready for the "big city" and often rolled my eyes at what I thought to be a primitive and boring existence. Oh, how the tables have turned. I can't wait to get back. The open space, the friendly faces....the basics of living. That place heals my heart.

K making the trip back to the house from the upper garden
Many of the local residents of my hometown possess a sense of community and self-sufficiency that simply does not exist here in the suburbs. Going home and going to Pie Fest reminded me how important community connections are and how much urban centers are missing out by insisting on isolation.We have bought into a richly advertised paradigm that say the products we buy are socially advantageous-in other words, the more STUFF you have, the more successful you appear and thus, you won't have to try so hard when it comes to the social interactions that are essential to being a happy human. But all the buying, the stuff collecting, the "keeping up with Joneses" has consumed so much of our time and energy that we have fewer opportunities for genuine connections.

People need to be connected. My neighbors had a little potluck get together a couple of weekends ago. They invited my family, and one other family from down the street. We got into a discussion about the few other remaining people on the block (many of the houses are for sale, foreclosed or abandoned) and realized that we've become strangers on our own street. There is no sense of community, no pride.  Besides the three families sitting around that table, there is no one we would ask to water our plants while we were gone, no one's backyard we would send our children to play in. We see each other, quickly in passing, but seldom do we give more than the customary wave or nod of the head. Many of them speed down our street, tear into their garages and shut the doors as fast as they can.

I want the relationships in my life to take precedence. I don't want to lose my social connections. Sure, you can work your forty plus hours, buy the boat, the designer duds, whatever your heart desires. But if you fill yourself up with STUFF,  and fill your time with ACQUIRING STUFF,  you may find the the fibers that were holding your life together will start to unravel. I know mine did. Hence my journey to simplification. I like shopping just as much as the next woman but I will not let it be all of me. I refuse. Things are not important. People are important. Our connections to one another are important. Step out of your protective bubble and meet the people with whom you share your world. You'll be glad you did!

1 comment:

  1. Love this post, well done! The worst thing that ever happened in our society (ok, a little dramatic and I'm sure I can think of worse!) was to have garage doors attached to our houses and remote controls. Then people don't have to get out of the car until they are in the house. And they wonder why they have no friends!! I live on a property, so don't have a garage, nor neighbours I can see, but there's nothing like hanging around the butcher or local shop to see who you can chat to!! It is important to work if you need to, whether for financial, social or intellectual gain. But it is also important to know those who live around you. Know people, any people, it's enriching to our life!
    Oh, and glad you had some yummy looking pie! Looked like you had lots of fun :)