Friday, February 5, 2010

I've been thinking a lot lately about bases. Where do you go for the camaraderie and comfort of a home base? Most of us have several. Bases are a way of identifying ourselves. They are also a way of belonging to a "we", not just an "I". And humans mostly need that, at least a little bit.

This week my son and I attended the funeral of his great-aunt, a dear, sweet woman who slipped quietly away at 94. It was a happy funeral, a celebration. It's a large family. Several couldn't get there, and still, about 25 or 30 were together for lunch after. It was a time to touch base, to remember that, no matter how scattered, all these folks have others they are related to. It is a pleasant reminder, particularly since this is a warm, caring family.

So. A base.

When you do work you like and/or believe in, that is another base. It becomes stronger if you manage to work there several years, an increasingly difficult feat. I am definitely defined by all three of the professional careers I have had. I still keep up with people from all three. For two of the professions, in particular, I don't know any other people I have so much in common with. It's not just memories we share. It is ideas and ways of examining the world around us. They are real bases. I get so hungry to talk to people with keen curiosity, wide-ranging interests, depth of knowledge.

The third is churches. I've finally found a liberal Christian church that encourages questioning, harmony, and diversity. I'm loving it. The kids are great. They have attentive, caring parents. I suspect the parents enjoy getting together to talk and having others of us in the church take over for an hour or two. The older people are wise and open. I realized recently that yes, this is truly a major base. A family in our church has started bringing an adolescent boy they know with them to just everything for his age level. He has a rough home life. As he spends weeks and months coming, participating, and yes, lots of eating, I am watching him slowly smooth out a bit. His home is not a base, but the church is becoming one. I see it happening. I think this is a good thing. He belongs somewhere.

Schools and colleges can be bases for many. I have two degrees from two universities. I have never attended a reunion at either school. I keep up with some of the friends I made, but not the schools. I do read my alumni magazines. But a home base? Not so much. Both of the schools are fairly name brand, so it's not the prestige factor. I'm proud of the degrees. I just don't need to go back there. (I always meant to frame the diplomas, but I never got around to it.)

And of course, the neighborhood bar. I have several friends who have spent every Friday or Saturday night at the same bar for years. They all know each other. They dance. They laugh. They celebrate each others' birthdays. They bring food over when a family member dies.

THAT is a base.

Maybe I am old-fashioned, because all of these require actual physical contact. I am not sure that a chat room can be a base. I love blogging and reading others, but for me it is a fun social activity, not a base.

Still, one of my personal bases is writing, and this blog gives me a chance to touch that. For that, I am thankful.

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