Soon, I will be attending several family gatherings. In honor of these special occasions, here is an essay—well, part of an essay—from book #2:
“A wedding. A funeral. A baby naming. Coming of age ceremonies. Important anniversaries. Unimportant occasions. Unimportant? All occasions that bring people together are important. Gathering together forges ties and friendships, support and community. Whether the occasion is happy or sad or tension filled or relaxed, gathering together leads to emotional release, emotional awareness, or emotional expression, even if the emotions are repressed or explosive. The importance of gathering in small groups or in larger arrangements is often overlooked.
People are meant to gather. People are meant to intertwine. People are meant to do for one another, support one another, receive from one another. People have the ability to enrich and entertain and inform one another. Gathering and intertwining, supporting and participating, empathizing and sympathizing are natural aspects of humankind. People who shun human contact, gatherings, or other human interactions have been damaged; they are not the natural beings they were born to be. Their natural inclinations should be to join in, not opt out. Ill treatment by others usually causes these deviations. Some see self-sufficiency and the creation of imaginary barriers to keep people out as positive things. They are wrong. …People are meant to connect.
Attending an event is not enough. Being there physically is not enough. Mouthing nice words without meaning them is not enough. Criticism is best left at home. Envy, too. But, heartfelt joy can stay! As can supportive thoughts! And feelings of comfort or pride or respect—depending on the occasion and the circumstances. Focusing on the people, whether we are tired or busy or have attended “too many” events. Enjoying each one for its own merits, its own purpose, its own celebration.”