Sunday, June 3, 2012

To Belong

Recently, I have been struggling with a deep desire. The desire 'to belong'. The strength of this urge within me reminds me of the relentlessness of the existence of gravity. Feeling the pull of the earth beneath my feet through its rapid, rotational, roamings, and the restlessness of my life form, seem to inexorably pervade my reality. What crude, hippified words does this desire coerce me into using to express what I wish to belong to?

To Belong to a natural space that I am absorbed by
To Belong to a project (despite its futile-passion tendencies)
To Belong to an Environmental NGO or respectable Environmental thinker
To Belong to a community (that values my values)
To Belong to a lover (preferably mine)

What can I make of this desire? Let me start with its history. Is it new? Not really. You probably heard me drifting through the corridors singing, 'I am displaced, I am displaced...' by Azure Ray. How about psycho-analysing this feeling? Perhaps its another ego trip. 'Am I not special? Where is that place where I can find my dreamland, where I am the center, and will remain the center forever?' This may be partially true, undeniably. But I am not fully convinced.

What does it really mean to belong? Our helpful dictionary points us in one direction, "To be in its right place." This reminds me of Adrienne Rich's Politics of Location. To Rich, I am not merely a woman and identified so. But rather I belong to and I am created by the geography, race, caste, sex, political scenario, economic background, caste, facticity (things I cannot change about myself) etc. I suppose these make me and I am made by them. Perhaps I do not feel a sense of belonging, do not truly understand my politics of location because I have been lost in the sky of the abstract. A world of abstract ideas and concepts, where I became oblivious to even my being immanently an Indian and a woman. Feeling like a balloon trapped in an unclosed, container, I have floated away into the sky. Perhaps to escape unfathomable personal experiences.

There is also another sense to this urge to belong. It is a need to blend in, for the sake of others and myself, to create, to communicate. To become a community that cares. Carol Lee Flinders in her book, Values of Belonging explores the value system of human communities before agriculture and the system that has developed in the post-agricultural world. The hunter-gather lifestyle was dependent wholly on the values of belonging to your community which included not just your clan members but nature itself which was not separate the way we perceive it to be now. This is the sense in which I wish to belong as well.

Every damn thing within the ecological systems of the earth have their functional part. What is my part? How can I belong if I do not know my role or the habits I must cultivate to fit into my role? This is how I wish to belong.

Wise words from my mother when I expressed this need to belong;
"Everybody has a time in their life when they feel this urge, this desire, to belong. It is very important during this time to find something/someone you belong to. In time these things change and rigidity begins to creep in. Sometimes it is having a child that quenches this need for belonging because you find someone you want to live for. Rather than they belong to you, you belong to them."

Hmm... time to make 10 children. That makes me belong 9 times more than if I just had 1. Bah! No. Nein. Nahi.

I am going to do nothing for a while and see if belongingness finds me. If I am not lucky enough, can I create the belonged world for me? Perhaps.  

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