Childish Enthusiasm and Community

Put yourself into life and never lose your openness, your childish enthusiasm throughout the journey that is life, and things will come your way. -F. Fellini

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and about location.

New cities are filled with hope and opportunity. There’s no day-to-day tedium, no awkward encounters, no accountability. A new city is an excitingly blank slate upon which you can heap all of your dreams for the person you’d like to be. 

We can visit so many places within a year, within our lives, and certain cities will speak to us so much more than others. You may go on a trip or a vacation, check out this brand new place, try new foods, meet really wonderful people, and still think, “This is nice, but I miss my home.” And then, oh boy, there are other places where suddenly your heart aches the moment you get there because you know you’re going to have to leave.

I felt that way about Rome, and I feel that way every time I visit Italy. Yet I realized the motivation behind this desire to always be somewhere else, to always want to be somewhere new is a desire for community. It’s the drive to find the group of likeminded people that I belong with.

This line of thought comes with caveats. Firstly, the most magical aspect of the time in which we live is that community is distributed. Through the internet, it’s possible to collaborate with nearly anyone, regardless of where they live. Vine is a really good example of how an app, especially an app that results in such creative works, can create a virtual community.

Secondly, I live in a community already, so it’s silly to say I want to find a community. When boiled down to its essence, it’s the desire to not only feel part of something bigger, but to be part of something bigger that participates in the act of creating. Yes, this is a direct result of my incessant idealization of those fantastic arts movements of the 20th century: how did Tristan Tzara directly affect Marcel DuChamp’s works? Would Jack Kerouac have written differently had he not known Allen Ginsberg? What if the New York Dolls never met, would punk music still sound the same?

Art is like running, it’s simultaneously collaborative and isolating. When I sit down to write – or, conversely, when I go for a run – I do so alone. I can have a running partner, I can scribble some words with a friend, but both of these acts are coming from within, where only I exist. At the same time, through conversations and real world experiences, our art is slowly modified and molded by the world around us.

So when I saw this video yesterday, it made me think even more about community and what that means. While technology can bring us together, a la Vine, it also distances us so much from each other. It’s a strange balance that often feels like you need to choose a side. (“I love the internet!” “I hate the internet!”)

So I tell myself: If you can remain open, to signs and to your instinct, to the world beyond the periphery of your phone and computer, community will be created naturally. Through openness and passion, it’s impossible to go wrong or, for that matter, go it alone. Where ever that may be.

Image from The Public Domain Review, Double Exposures

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