Wednesday 27 April 2016

COMMUNITY - By Kirsten Nance

What is it? Why does it matter? Who is it composed of? All of the aforementioned questions are ones which I have forever struggled to answer.  Growing up in a small town similar to Bude, my original idea of community was: a group of people one is surrounded by that is determined by birthplace. However, the dictionary defines a community as a "social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists” ( Growing up, my personality, thoughts, and ideas didn’t quite fall in line with those of my assigned community members. The only characteristic I shared was my race, and even that was debatable. I decided at a young age that when I was old enough, I would venture out to find communities of my own--niches, comfort zones--and through traveling, communities are exactly what I have found. 

Cerenity: The band of rebels… the nomads, the wanderers, the unique free spirits that live together under one roof (more specifically, a stable, a loft, a caravan, two vans, and a master bedroom, but you get the point). Cerenity gives light to the phrase “not all who wander are lost.” We are a way of life that is raw, untamed, and uncut. The consistent flow of volunteers coming through year-round creates a community that is a cultural melting pot; the silent, the strident, the ludicrous, and the reclusive. Together, we create balance.  

A community isn’t meant to be perfect, it is meant to have positive and negative aspects.  We eat, sleep, work, laugh, banter, and drink together. There are no secrets. There are disagreements, moments of tension, and occasional awkward moments, but without those things, true connection would not exist. Learning to communicate efficiently, and respecting how others communicate,  is arguably the most vital part of functioning harmoniously in a community. Communities teach us about ourselves: our strengths, or weaknesses. Some of us excel at organization, structure, multi-tasking, and order, while others excel at creativity, logic, ideas, and intuition. A few of us excel at all of the above. Community members learn from one another, too. During my stay, the volunteers and semi-permanent residents taught one another to cook properly, garden (though I still believe that takes more luck than skill), ride horses (Poppy is a pro), fix what was broken (for the most part), create animals from bottle tops, build up a higher alcohol tolerance, twerk and gracefully fall from a slack line. We have pushed each other to be the best versions ourselves. We have challenged one another physically, mentally, and socially. We have engaged in intense conversation, shared hilarious stories, and created stories to be told to future community members. We have rolled dice on the sidewalks of Bude while incoherently intoxicated, we have ran from invisible authorities and hid behind trees in the woods after refusing to pay the entrance fees to a nature park, we have laughed uncontrollably at the sight of others tripping, slipping, or running into various objects, we have watched others get aggressively thrown off of angry ponies, and we have even ran to the ocean at midnight to contemplate swimming naked in the freezing cold Atlantic Ocean. We have created memories that will forever be remembered. 

Some of us don’t mind being lost in the World that surrounds us, while others aren’t bothered  to be lost in our own minds. We range from impulsive, to patient… we are followers, and we are leaders: We all stand apart, while simultaneously standing together. As a part of travel culture, I consider a community to be a ‘home away from home.’ A place filled with people that (if necessary) will pick a person up and help him through his darkest hours, and also celebrate him on his brightest days. A few weeks spent in a community that is relatable, tolerant, and accepting, can make a difference that will last a lifetime. 

We move, we change, we grow, but the people we choose to let in, to impact our lives, to change us, those are the people who matter, those people are our community. 

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