Community

I spent a good part of the last week in India. I was invited to give a talk at a chemistry conference. There is much to say about the experience, but for today just one thought.

We were given a ‘cultural event’ – some music and dancing from the region. Some of it was striking and quite moving. But what stays with me is the dance of these seven young girls.

As I watched them, there was no clear ‘leader’ of the group. Over the passage of the dance first one, then another, then another, took the lead. It wasn’t planned, it was just whoever happened to remember the steps at that particular point was the leader. The one who had been confident only seconds before lost her way and had to watch her companions.

They all made it through the dance because of their collective memory. Not one of them would have made it one their own.

It struck me, almost immediately, as a beautiful metaphor for our need for community. We all get momentarily distracted or preoccupied from time to time. If we are acting alone we lose our way. But if we are a part of a larger community they can carry us along in those moments. And just as some carry us during those times. We too take our turn at leading periodically.

I participate in several different dances – therefore there is not community but several. Nonetheless, I am left deeply grateful for those who dance alongside me.

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