I have a friend who is a joiner. She is always taking classes in one thing or another or partiicpating in discussion groups. I have watched her take cooking, yoga, meditation, and music classes. She has been part of book discussion, self-help, and bible study groups. I told her she gives the words “classy” and “groupy” new meaning. Actually, I am a joiner myself. I just like it when someone else is a little more obsessive about something than I am. It makes me feel better about my obsessions.
Seriously, being part of groups is not what you would call a character defect. It can be problematic if it is done to run away from something else like a troubled marriage or from job responsibilities. It is also possible to be part of many groups without really availing oneself to what a group offers. If one is attending a bible study, for example, a person may engage only on an intellectual level, never allowing what they are hearing to change their hearts. I have seen this in groups, where most participants are open and honest while a few just recite wise sayings or give canned responses while their lives continue to be chaotic.
I think what my friend is doing is honoring all the different aspects of her life. I think this is what I try to do, too. But for me, I have to be careful not to over-commit my time. I like to know I am available to family and friends, while attending to my needs. Last summer I listened to a newly formed women’s choral group perform at a town festival. I was drawn in by their enthusiasm and touched by their intention to sing for peace. But I also knew that I was launching on a path to do something (finally) about my writing. I decided to put the idea of joining a singing group on hold, perhaps for another year. I belong to a handful of groups, one of which is my spiritual community. These are important to me for my growth and the benefit I get overflows into the rest of my life.
Most of us have diverse talents and interests and it would be wonderful if in one lifetime we could attend to them all. Maybe attending to a few is all we can expect. I am grateful that I was born into a culture where I can attend to any of them. I am learning the value of balance and honesty. I am grateful, too, that I have the opportunity to be with people who can support me on my journey.