A few months ago I wrote on community for this blog, after I had the opportunity to visit a place called Hedgebrook on Whidbey Island here in Washington. I’ve been thinking a lot on this topic since then, never more than this past weekend, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
I grew up in Alaska, in a family that was, other than myself, entirely masculine. The conversations in our house revolved around hunting, fishing, and guns. I found solace and an escape from the masculine energy in our house by reading, and I turned to books time and time again. I grew up having a quite masculine approach to the world myself, because my father never permitted me to express myself in any kind of subtle, indirect, or particularly feminine way. He called this behavior “tricking”, and it reminded him of my mother, so he stamped it out of me in whatever way he could. So, I adapted a more masculine way of interacting with the world as a survival mechanism.
It was only when I was much older and started working with myths and the psychological insights that they can contain that I started to understand the value of approaching the world in a more feminine way. That never looking to anyone else for support or help was a damaging way to be in the world. It is only in the last few years that I’ve begun to learn how to be in relationships with women, as I had very little experience of that as a child and teenager.
When I visited Hedgebrook last fall I started to really examine the idea of community, and what it might mean for me to be in one, to support my work as a writer and to support others. To me this means looking for ways to get involved with a community of other writers, other mythologists. To fully commit myself to being vulnerable, to trust, even though that might lead to heartbreak. This is a very scary concept for me.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to gather with a group of other mythologists in the Catskills Mountains of New York, to talk about creating a new community for people working professionally with myth. I’ll have more to say about that later once things have firmed up a bit, but I can say that it was such a wonderful few days for me, to gather with others who share my passion for working with myth, to argue with them and agree with them, to bring something new into the world.
I’m still working on finding ways to be in community with others. I’m still trying to find a writing group that will work for me (any ideas on how to do that would be much appreciated). I’m looking forward to spending more time at Hedgebrook in the future, and I can’t wait to share more information about the new myth association that is coming together now. Community can be both a scary and wonderful thing, and I’m learning how to embrace it.