Ceremonies, traditions, milestones… All of the special moments that mark significant points in life have been at the forefront of my mind these days. In just over a week of my return to Reno, I have been surrounded by all of these and I’ve been observing the meaning and effects they have on the people who are involved. Spending a week at a cabin in Tahoe with my family is somewhat of a family tradition, my cousin proposed to his amazing girlfriend just before his arrival, one of my best friend’s is getting married this weekend, my 10-year high school reunion is this weekend, and Burning Man starts on Monday (though I’m not attending either of the last two events, their significance and impact on their communities have not escaped me). Apparently, late August and the end of summer is a time that is saturated for celebrations!
As I mentioned in my last blog, I successfully finished the book I had been reading, and one of the most interesting parts of finishing it was how it so perfectly related to what has been happening around me. In The Solace of Open Spaces, the author discusses two events that take place in Wyoming, which are based around traditional Native American celebrations, describing the course of transformation, “It was an old ritual: separation, initiation, return… They would return changed.” There is potential for transformations to occur whether you’re going on a summer road trip, banishing yourself to the desert community of Burning Man, getting engaged or married, or whatever other ceremony or milestone you are participating in.
The Crow Fair was particularly interesting; the author discusses the annual 5-day celebration, in which several different tribes of Indians, as well as other non-Indian participants, gather together to create a temporary community that can join in mutual celebration – “Part of the ‘wholeness’ of traditional Indian life that the tipi and circular dance arbor signify is togetherness at these powwows. Indians don’t go home at night; they camp out where the action is, en masse.” The book describes human nature’s communal motivation to come together and reconnect to something bigger than your usual, smaller, community base; whether it’s Crow Fair or Burning Man, or one of the hundreds of other events based on the same principle, it is nothing new for people to seek a community in which they can, at least temporarily, put aside differences to focus on the common threads that bind us together.
While these community celebrations are incredibly special and provide a unique experience to it’s participants, we have yet to find a way for these temporary, celebratory gatherings to develop into long-term, sustainable communities. While we may be able to suspend differences for perhaps a few days, or possibly weeks, to embrace the community gathering and common celebrations, inevitably, people will subdivide into their smaller communities and relationships. Having spent the summer traveling, my time was divided between travelling alone, with a partner, with strangers, and with small groups of people, and I couldn’t help but to observe how different traveling can be depending on the person or group you are traveling with (or without); simply, it can be difficult to please everyone and that difficulty tends to increase with numbers. So, naturally, we seek out the partnerships and small communities that are most compatible and pleasing to us – our partners, close friends, friend-families, families, extended families, and so on. There is value in surrounding yourself with like-minded people, and anyone who has ever struggled to make good friends or find a happy, healthy relationship, knows that it doesn’t always come easily.
Ah, but the joy when you do find that connection! It may not always be easy, but when it happens, it feels like magic; whether falling in love or finding that person who you instantly know is going to be your best friend, there is something so special about making those primary connections. With my cousin’s engagement and my best friends’ wedding, I’ve been surrounded by loving partnerships, and feel so lucky to be around such wonderful couples. I would like to take a moment to congratulate my cousin and cousin-to-be; having spent time around them last week, it was easy to see how purely in love they are and what an incredibly compatible match they make! I couldn’t be happier about their engagement, or that it took place on a vacation to visit us on the West Coast. Similarly, it was so fun to be around the newly-engaged couple with my friend’s wedding just a week away, allowing me to witness the milestones that lead a relationship to marriage.
The ceremony of marriage is a very special one, because although it is a celebration of the couple, it is just as much a celebration for the community to come together to recognize and validate the relationship, the expansion of families, and the creation of a new one. I’m tempted to ramble on about how thrilled I am for the wedding this weekend, about how grateful I am to be a witness to such a wonderful and loving couple taking the plunge, and about what a special community they are surrounded by, but I fear I will dip into what I’ve been working on for my speech, so I’ll have to wait to really express those sentiments. What I can say, is that the wedding weekend we are about to embark on feels like the perfect culmination of the microcosm and macrocosm coming together, celebrating both smaller, intimate partnerships and a larger, commonly-oriented community, and exploding into a love-filled week which perfectly sums up the love theme I’ve been working with through out my entire trip. The one thing I knew would happen this summer, without a doubt, was my return to Reno/Tahoe for this wedding, and I am so happy to be here to join in these celebrations.
Ceremonies, traditions, milestones… they’re all opportunities to celebrate the partnerships and communities you’re a part of, so wherever you are and whatever adventure you’re on, I wish you the very best! Every person’s journey holds the potential to transform, to connect to something bigger (like a community that makes you feel “at home”), or something smaller, but still grand (like meeting your best friend or finding your “soulmate”), and without a doubt, the opportunity to embrace and be surrounded by love. Carry forth with an open mind and an open heart, and remember that wherever you are, whoever you are with, there is magic to be found and you are exactly where you’re supposed to be!
Stories from the road-trip that inspired moving to the PNW, and other travel adventures.