There are so many stories out there of community projects ending up in unresolvable conflict, fallouts occuring between founders, people getting ripped off out of their life savings and the list goes on.
So, why would you want to live in a community?
From where I sit living in the community I manage here on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, my answer is - because of the healing that can take place in community life.
Why do I say this?
Because life is just so much harder when you’re going it alone, whether by yourself in a couple or as a family unit. Recently I have been through some hard times with the end of a relationship and I have found that what has gotten me through it has been the fact that I dont have to go through it alone.
There are days when I feel terrible, days where I dont want to get out of bed in the morning, days where I just want to give up. It’s these times where I feel the strength I draw from living in a community. I will head to the kitchen and get some breakfast and immediately someone will ask me how I am doing. If I dont look good and I try to cover it up, they will ask again until I open up or suggest that we do something together. They’ll check in on me the next day to see how I’m going.
This helps me to not bottle things up inside, it helps me to actually deal with and work through things that are hard, rather than hide from them and put on a brave face.
Until you are living with people who are truly there for you, who have your back, and at the same time will also keep you accountable in living the best version of you, you dont know just what kind of resilience you’re capable of.
I know for a fact that if it wasnt for my community here I would be really doing it tough right now. I’m every day grateful I’ve chosen this life for myself and have the kind of support that I really need around me.
Community life is not all roses though. Living so closely with others and collaborating on projects, retreats and other events like we do here at Karuna Atitlan is not always easy. As manager I have to bring qualities of leadership to everything I do here. There are times when I give in to reactions to things, and after getting feedback from others, have to apologise and come back and try and do better tomorrow. Living in community our patterns that come from our childhood and our reactions to things will inevitably surface, we will mess up and act out time and again, but if the willingness to see the best in ourselves and others and keep working to improve is there - things can be worked out and we can forgive each other for our mistakes and, like a good family should, refuse to give up on each other.
It’s because I have experienced the benefits of this way of living in my life that I am dedicated to helping others create communities of their own. It’s my passion because I believe it’s the way forward for humanity, a way for us to really heal and grow and thrive in our lives far greater than we ever can when we are isolated and alone. Our hyper individualised western cultures have given us a raw deal in this respect and it really doesnt serve our highest good to continue this way.
I believe that community living is the way of the future, mostly because of the healing that is possible for those that can embrace this way of life fully and with a willingness to put in the work to build lasting relationships that can endure conflict and reach resolution, time and time again.