When I was in Afghanistan I was taken to the family home of one my guide’s friends. As it was a family home I knew there’d be some family in it but what I didn’t expect was such a high amount of family. There was so much family in there.
All living under the one roof I found: the friend we’d gone to see and his parents. There was also his wife, and then their three kids. Two of his brothers also lived there… plus their wives and kids. There was also a couple of uncles banging around but I’m not sure where they caught their shut-eye because all the sub-family units occupied a room each; parents in double beds, with little ones in triple-bunks.
Push forward a few weeks and I was in Nepal. This time actually staying in a local family home. But this dwelling housed lots of unrelated families. Like, imagine a few of the neighbours on your street, but in your house. You’re standing there waiting for someone to get out of the squat toilet at 7am and out comes Ted from over the fence. That kind of thing.
Family bonds in Papua New Guinea were different again. Not only was everyone in the village calling everyone aunty, uncle, sister, brother out of nothing but respect because not everyone is blood related, but everyone knows what’s up with everyone else. Sure it could be perceived as nosey and gossipy (which it was), but that’s what happens in close communities that love each other.
Lastly there was the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory – Australia’s indigenous mob. The people I met there and the stuff they taught me about communities was next-level strong family bonding. The customs associated with Yolngu families and tribes are so mind-blowingly complex that me pretending I could explain would be an insult. Let me just say though, their beautifully crafted methodologies for tracking the family tree over thousands of years is a much superior way to alleviate inbreeding than ancestory.com.
I’ve been thinking about family bonds and communities a bit recently. Because, let’s face it, I’m lonely. I don’t need a man to keep me warm at night because I have pyjamas. I don’t need housemates to eat dinner with me because they don’t replace the toilet paper. And I don’t even need more friends because I have quite enough friends, thanks.
There are friends. And there are family. And there are friends that are family.
What I need is a community like the one I have at home.
We all need people who want to exchange personal stories of joy and sadness with us. We all need people willing to absorb some of our negative energy and replace it with their juicy positive stuff. We all have the basic human need to be cared for and to care for others. And anyone who’s not into murdering puppies will understand this.
A day without laughter is a day wasted.
– Charlie Chaplin
People are only as good and strong as the people they surround themselves with. And building your roots in a strong community could give you a tremendous advantage in happiness over those who travel around admiring other people’s happiness (🙋🏼guilty).
Time is seriously precious stuff and I’m starting to think I’ve been away from my roots too long.