Good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue
I have always enjoyed my own company. That characteristic was one of the driving reasons for going self-employed over two decades ago. Being constantly told what to do was difficult to tolerate, however good the boss.
Yet tides turn. A part of me has increasingly come to crave membership of a group of peers with similar interests and temperaments. People to meet with, face-to-face, on a regular basis, but in purposeful equilibrium, without being dragged into the regular ego battles of younger days.
More than that. The word that sums up my desire is concresence. Not just a growing together of initially separate parts, but evolving, together, preferably to embrace a learning process of some kind.
Not straightforward friendships, which require good chunks of in-between time to stay fresh. I love all of my mates but beer and banter soon run their courses, for me. The pressures to meet more, rather than less, were fundamental in my leaving the pub/cycling group described in Blog 10.
I have run a betting syndicate, which was really a case of my egotistical enjoyment being matched by the passivity of the other participants. So it’s not that.
Last winter I had the notion to start up a secular prayer group, as an experiment. Firstly, to see if a group focusing on helping others could have a measurable, practical effect. In the spirit of scientific enquiry. Second, as a way in which I could get to sit with similar minded people, but with a distinct task in mind. Not droning out handed-down words, or begging for bounty from on high, but wishing for improvements in the lives of others while we grew as a group.
I got as far as a few volunteers, generally with backgrounds in Christian worship. My decision was to put it on the back burner. Intuition said there would be clashes among the potential members. Maybe I will revisit this down the line.
The Buddhist group spoken of in Blog 126 was maybe the nearest I have come to group concresence. High levels of devotion, layer upon layer of spiritual learning and the use of prayer to heal. I lacked the time and money – and perhaps the willingness to jump completely in, feet first – that would have greased that journey.
The Ubuntu gatherings mentioned in Blog 6 were fascinating, but nobody could agree on common, achievable aims.
Certain aspects of being a monk might have suited a few centuries ago, but not the celibacy and lack of family.
What has quietly thrilled is how my marriage has come to exhibit rising levels of concresence. Even if I never find – or found – the type of group mentioned above, Maureen and I have run a home for 36 years and a family for 31 years. We have had some big ups and downs, for sure, but these have steadily smoothed out. Now, we can sometimes begin talking in the mornings and produce an exchange of exploratory ideas lasting for hours, putting standard tasks on hold (Blog 58).
It is an extraordinary achievement, for which I am supremely grateful.