Until recently I had never heard of the British journalist & author, Julia Baird. Wanting to listen to a non-fiction audio book I stumbled upon Phosphorescence, read by the author herself. In her own words Baird has said:
“We write to be able to put our arms around another person.
Writing this book has shown me there are so many people with a hankering to find all the things that unite us. There’s so much more that brings us together than divides us.”
I heard this & was moved. I was touched… I realised that is why I write, to bring people together…to share a positive vibe. And then letting the positive vibe act like a ripple in a pond…let it spread.
Julia went in search of “the magic that’ll sustain us & fuel the light within–our own phosphorescence” It was all about awe, wonder & things that sustain you when the world goes dark. It’s exactly the same thing that I was delighted to discover when I came across this Harvard study, a number of years ago. The Harvard study ran over a course of 80 years and tried to unravel how to live a healthy and happy life. A marvellous revelation. The study proved that embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier.
It’s what we all need; a sense of community, a sense of belonging, a sense of being heard and feeling at home. It’s what drives me in life.. trying to connect with people and find what connects us, and not to focus on the differences or the things that do not connect us.
Having a sense of ‘community belonging’ means ‘a feeling that the members in the community matter to one another and to the group as a whole.’ One goes another extra mile to help out a community member.
In my town, in Eastern Netherlands, this sense of community is strongly present. It is called Noaberschop. Traditionally a Noaberschap was a small, predominantly agricultural community of neighbours (noabers). In a Noaberschap, every neighbor has a moral duty to assist the other noabers with advice and aid when needed or requested. Some may call this ‘big brother is watching’ or ‘unwanted medling in others business’, but when it’s not too invasive, then I very much appreciate this sense of caring for others. In my town, as I discovered, the first neighbour has additional tasks. Apart from taking care of plants, mail and pets during your vacation, he or she also arranges a fruit basket or funeral wreath on behalf of all neighbours in cases of illness or bereavement. My first encounter with noaberschap was when we’d recently moved. Before leaving for office, I’d set our garbage bin on the curb. When I arrived home in the evening, it was gone. One of our elderly noabers (whom we hadn’t yet met) had brought it back to our backyard. This small gesture made me feel welcome, accepted and part of the community.
I never realised that ‘building a community (creating a feeling of belonging)’ has always been one of my driving forces in life. It turned out to be the theme of my debut novel. I only discovered this theme when rereading the book afresh while writing the blurb !
Want to read more? Check my blogpost on ‘Communities around the world’ here.
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