Unlearning what I have learned

Tonight, mom and I went to Hope Lives Here, a fundraiser for the Georgian Bay Cancer Support Centre. The big room was filled with people celebrating cancer patients and survivors – bound together by shared experience.

I was moved by stories of courage, loss and, most of all, hope. I was also a bit overwhelmed by faces from my past.

If you aren’t from a small town, here’s what it’s like: there’s no use hiding in the bathroom when you’re guaranteed to know the woman peeing next to you.

If you were a total misfit and weirdo most of your youth (ahem), this lack of anonymity can be trying. But most of the time, it’s nice to feel connected to those around you. I think that’s what most mean when they use the word community: people who share a common story.

When I first moved to Toronto, I made eye contact with everyone I passed on the sidewalk, talked to anyone I rode more than two floors with in an elevator, and always made friends with seatmates on the subway, whether they smelled like garbage or not.

Fast-forward to now. The chatty salesperson trying to recommend a product makes me want to claw my eyes out. The old lady asking me where I got my coat gives me tappy-foot syndrome.  The waitress who can’t stop talking about the weather is deeply irritating.

My ability to remain disconnected from (or inability to connect with?) people I bump into every day is sad. In the words of Yoda, I must unlearn what I have learned.

This event was a good start. A reminder of the importance of community – in helping people heal, giving us purpose, and bringing our days meaning. I’m going to carry that lesson in my back pocket these next few weeks and see where it takes me.

 

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