Monday, September 6, 2010

A sense of belonging

I rarely feel like I belong in a group. Even in those, such as my company, to which I possess an inarguable membership, I still find myself wondering what it's like to be part of the others, to belong.

Tonight, Sarah's symphony orchestra played its annual Labor Day pops concert on the lawn in a quad. We went, of course, both to support Sarah and because I found last year, to my surprise, that I quite liked the show. Part of what appeals to me, of course, is that this is not in any sense a stuffy gathering. Instead, as you can see in this picture, it's a very informal event, which only contributed to my enjoyment.

The weather was perfect, a hint of the coming fall lacing the air, sunny at the beginning and then darkening gently as the sun descended behind the buildings to my left.

People of all sorts sat on folding chairs and blankets, alone and in couples and in groups, and listened to the joyful music.

Some were there to support friends and loved ones. Others came from their love of the music. Still others wandered by or heard the sound and came to check it out.

Many brought snacks, some full meals. We nibbled on cherries and strawberries, grapes and raspberries, figs and blackberries.

No two people, no two clusters of chairs, no two groups of folks stretched out on blankets were doing exactly the same thing.

Except listening. We were all enjoying the same music, all gathered around a group of performers and taking in the show, as people have done since they huddled in caves to escape the rain and the wild.

About two thirds of the way through the concert, I found myself smiling and genuinely, simply, without specific reason or impetus, happy. I was happy.

Of course, analysis always follows emotion with me, so I wondered what it was about this and similar events that made me happy, and then it hit me: yes, the music brought me joy, but the real source of my stronger happiness was that for a very brief time, I belonged.

I was just another human gathered for a performance, and for most of its duration, I belonged.

As the orchestra closed with "Stars and Stripes Forever" and the conductor had us lend our clapping to the performance, I smiled and I clapped and I belonged.

Wonderful, wonderful.


Kyle said...

"...but the real source of my stronger happiness was that for a very brief time, I belonged."

I interpret this as weakness.

Mark said...

Of course you do, Kyle, and to some degree, so do I. I also know that you share this weakness.


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