On Finding & Feeding Your Tribe
Right company is more important than will
Years ago my friend Curtis introduced me to this concept, in the context of the importance of nurturing relationships to help maintain a spiritual practice. I think about this now after returning from a week at the Kopkind Colony/Center for Independent Documentary Film Retreat or Magic Film Summer Camp as I prefer to call it. So many sweet connections with deeply gifted filmmakers. Inspiring and sometimes difficult conversations, startlingly beautiful work, deep wells of stories, laughter, and friendship.
It's funny how you don't realize something is missing from your life until you stand in the thick of it. I hadn't noticed my aching need for a community of artists, of filmmakers specifically, who were engaged in figuring out the work, until I was plopped down in the middle of them on an old hippie commune in Vermont. And it made me remember my other tribes, the people and places where I found such refuge in community. My Big Shed/Digging In family and the rest of the crew at The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke. The visionary artists and activists at Alternate Roots. The creative pack of actors, playwrights and directors at Trinity Rep. Deep binding friendships from college.
And the one thing that made these relationships possible was the gift of time. Taking a week out of my so-called "real life" to attend a retreat, staying up late at night to talk, sharing breakfast with a friend. When I was younger, time seemed expansive. There was plenty of time to go to school, do my homework, play with friends. The same held true in college, living together, taking classes, eating, laughing, talking. But now in my fractured life, with all it's instantaneous media distractions, I have to make real effort to stay in relationship. To maintain and nurture community. To feed it with the gifts of time and attention.
We do ourselves and the world a great dis-service when we think we can or have to do it alone. Inspiration doesn't necessarily come when we sweat out a product alone, turning ourselves into art martyrs out of some mistaken concept of creativity as suffering. Sometimes the good stuff only comes when we find our tribe, and toss our creativity lightly back and forth among trusted hands.
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