At a shopping centre food court where I was having lunch, there was a pregnant woman, trying to eat a sandwich while her two-year-old was tearing around the place. She kept running after him and picking him up and bringing him back to the table. I felt for her. I realized she was pregnant with twins when I heard her say “Max, I’m starving. Please sit so I can feed your sisters”. The next time her son ran away I knelt down to see if I could play peekaboo with him to give her enough time to get a few mouthfuls in. She came rushing over, saying “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t see that he had run that far.” She scooped him back in her arms and took him back to the table. I was sad that she was so defensive but I understood. If it was me with my son I would have probably taken it the same way. I hovered around for a few seconds pondering another attempt. I thought of sitting at her table and seeing if I could entertain him, but I lost my courage and went on my way to the courthouse where I was waiting to possibly be selected for jury duty.
At the courthouse, I sat with my group of thirty jury selection panel members in silence while they shuffled us around to three different rooms. People were mostly checking their smartphones. It was not until the third hour that chit-chat broke through our private worlds… “the bathroom light isn’t working”… “are we getting a break soon?”… “I’m starving”. The comments were banal, but they had the potential to blossom into the type of fun that comes from a shared hardship. But then one by one we were pulled from the room to face the judge and lawyers until I was the only one left.
My craving for the community is a yearning that takes courage to fill. I am part of some wonderful communities like the contact dance community in Toronto, but I want more. I crave a sense of my tribe in my day-to-day existence. I want to find the courage to create community wherever I go, whether it’s a mom who needs help or a bored jury selection panel. I need to reach out past that invisible line of “my world” and “your world” and see what happens.