Monday, September 23, 2013

Why do it? Why build community?

Why start anything? Is it need? Desire? Passion? Emergency? Boredom?

Geeta Sheker, Director for the Rotman Initiative for Women in Business, asked me “Why did you start on this path?” Like many, I started in order to help myself. I needed to get out of the holes I kept falling into – poor job situations, unable to look ahead because today took all I had, single parenting – you know the list or someone who has one just like it. My issues were partially because of societal issues for women, partially because of circumstances and mostly because I am far too independent and unable to ask for help. Being unable to ask for help isn’t about gender or situation; it’s simply pride, stubbornness and fear.

There I was, running 103 temperature with flu and all its disgusting side effects, with a three year-old running the same symptoms. He was on one side of my bed with a bucket beside him and I was on the other with mine. We were relatively new to the city and knew no neighbours, had no family or friends who lived nearby. I had no ginger ale, no soup, no crackers and no ability to go out and get any in the frozen February arena that is a Canadian city in the winter.

It was one of those Gone with the Wind moments. Had I had the strength, I would have raised my fist to the sky. Instead I lifted my head from the bucket and groaned “I never want to feel this isolated again.” (at least I meant to groan that; I probably just muttered “this is awful” and rolled back on the pillow.) In that moment, doing it all myself was out of reach. It would not be the last time – not at home, not at work, not at play.

Fast forward seventeen years…when I broke my ankle last summer, there were people in the emergency room almost before I arrived. I had food and distractions delivered to my door that lasted four weeks. And then my friends got the news and even more arrived. It’s still hard to ask for help but, without that crucial skill and a community in which to participate, it would have been a much tougher break (pun intended).

Our motives are personal and varied. Our communities are diverse and strong for that very reason. It matters less why we reach to each other, only that we actively do.

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