The stuff that little Texan zombie goddesses are made of, living where the brains are served warm and the sarcasm is served raw.

The Adventures Of Zuzu Zombie, Undead Detective

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Community (American Heritage Dictionary):
1. A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government.
2. The district or locality in which such a group lives.
The one we are going to be focusing on today, boys and girls is the definition that was almost at the bottom of the list, but the most important:
4b. Sharing, participation, and fellowship.

When you look at this fractal, what do you see? A bunch of colors and patterns randomly slapped down anywhere, or a community, a fellowship, of colors, one playing off the other, creating another, allowing another to survive?

A fractal is a geometric pattern that is repeated in smaller and smaller scales, until you get the end result. Each scale needs the one before and the one after to come into being, to survive. If one piece is missing or goes off the reservation, the entire pattern is thrown off and destroyed.

I have broken down my definition of a community into different factions: familia, amigos, chismosas, and despiadados.

Familia is the one who will be there no matter what. Phone calls after midnight to cry on a shoulder thousands of miles away are accepted with sympathy and understanding. Someone who will drop everything and drive to a funeral with you so you aren't all alone. An unexpected knock at the door is met with a cup of coffee and safety. Familia are the ones who can look you in the face and say, "What the f&% were you thinking?" or "You did what, you idiot?", and you know that it is said with 100% love. I am blessed to have people like that in my life. I feel blessed to be able to be one of those people to others around me. Open door, open heart, and always an open kitchen.

Next are the Amigos. Amigos are wonderful to have, but will usually send you on the way to the Familia if you need more than they can give. Amigos go to the movies with you, or even drag you there, so you don't sit and wallow in dispare and depression. Amigos give you a gift because they saw something that made them think of you and knew it would make you smile. We should all strive to be the Amigo Intimo that others need.

Next are the more dangerous ones. The ones who are dressed as Amigos Intimos, but are actually Chismosas. Chismosas put their arms around you and say, "Oh, it's going to be okay. Tell me all about it", then go and tell everyone else all about it, usually in the guise of "Well, so-and-so needs prayer...let me tell you why..." People that you never expected in a million years can be Chismosas, even the greatest Familia can be if they aren't careful. The difference is that Familia know when someone is being used as an interesting topic of conversation and try to stop it, where a Chismosa will happily add their two-cents before going on their own way.

Last, but not least, and the ones that are the worst of all: the Despiadado. They are the worst because you never see them coming until it is too late. They are the ones who take a mistake and can turn it into a witch hunt in two seconds flat. They pat your back with one hand while sharpening their knives with the other. Despiadados don't care if you are in pain or are suffering in some way, because that is what they use to become stronger. They are black holes, able to suck the life and light out of a community with ease. These are the ones that have the Familia always ready to pull an innocent Amigo back from its clutches.

Each one of these can either build up a community and make it a beautiful pattern of color and life, like a fractal, or they can break-down and create a place so dark and lifeless that all seems lost.

Who are you...honestly? Familia with a huge helping of Amigo Intimo and a smatter of Chismosa? An Amigo Intimo trying to become a Familia but with a scar of Despiadado holding you back? Or are you the Despiadado, the Chismosa, the Vicious Tattler, disguised as a Familia or Amigo Intimo?

Community isn't just where you live, your society, those "like" you. Community is your life, your blood, your safehouse. People who live in the houses next to me, across the street, even in another subdivision, know that I am here, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to lend a helping hand, ear, heart, even bed if necessary. People at church know that they can call us if they need assistance. Mi Familia 2000 miles away know that I would stop the earth from spinning to be by their side at any moment for any reason.

Do I start to feel empty sometimes...used...worn out? Yes, of course, I'm not Wonder Woman after all. That is where my community, mi Familia, comes into play. Just like the fractal, each piece, each Familia, needs the other to grow and renew and live and laugh and love. We refuel and refill each other with time and prayer and caring.

I am not perfect, I am sorry to have to admit. I have been a Chismosa, I have even tried my hand at being a Despiadado, but it is like trying to tell a Daffodil to become a Milkweed. It can try and try, but it just won't work.

Take a look at your community, your fractal. What do you see? What can you change, if not about others, then about yourself.

Community. Living life together. As one.




Lisa said...

Food for thought, Penny! And the photo? GORGEOUS! I could meditate on it.

boo said...

This is some of your finest writing, Penny. And from the heart — I am so proud.