The Special Group

Let’s say a group is a collection of people assembled together at a point in time and space. Over a duration of some sort, they form a unit: a class, a team, an audience, an assembly, a council. They interact within this unit. Talking to each other, learning together, playing together, creating together, making decisions together, witnessing together. And then their time as a group comes to an end. The season finishes, they graduate, the show closes, the meeting disperses.

Sometimes a group can forge an intense connection that makes the inevitable ending difficult. I saw this a lot when I was an improv teacher. There’s nothing quite like your first improv class–when as an adult you’re encouraged to play and connect and talk candidly about hard things with other people. I experienced it myself as a student, and it felt like magic. I belong with these people I thought then. And now, five years later, I can’t remember names or even who was in my first class. What’s more is I’ve experienced the same magic several times over with other improv classes and groups.

If there’s something I chase spiritually, it’s not necessarily a connection to a higher power but a connection to other people. I love being part of a unique collection of beings tethered together for a short burst of time–a finite unit of people in infinite time and space. And I want our connection to mean something. I want to look around a room of fellow volunteers or coworkers or gym goers or classmates or tourists and believe that for however short a period that we belong together in that space. That our togetherness matters.

Over the past couple years, I’ve grieved the end of some creative groups that meant a lot to me and the related heartbreak has made me hesitant to seek out similar connections despite the joy I might experience. I think a false notion of what’s “special” is partly to blame. See I think I thought that if I found the right group it wouldn’t end. But the truth is all groups will evolve or change or come to a close. And that’s part of what makes them special. Because even at the beginning I know there’s going to be an ending, and so I know have to enjoy this group of people and the time I have with them while I have it.

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