I AM a commuter – a four-hour-a-day commuter. I started commuting some years ago to expand my job skills and follow really great career o...

I AM a commuter – a four-hour-a-day commuter. I started commuting some years ago to expand my job skills and follow really great career opportunities. I mean, really great career opportunities. Not necessarily the kind that paid mega bucks but the kind I felt would give me hands-on ways to give voice to the kinds of communities I wanted to be a part of.

Giving voice to community has been my main motivation as a writer. I loved writing about the young sportsman that had earned a place at the nationals or the 70-year-old woman petitioning her neighbourhood and council for better playground amenities. Even where there were losses, the wins were evident. Someone had spoken out. Someone had tried, someone had had a go. For better or worse they were there, sleeves rolled up, boots on. As a young journalist this theme was at the heart of pretty much every piece I wrote.

That played out as a sub-editor and editor. Rather than writing about these things, I was turning inward and supporting a community of journalists and photographers to see, document and broadcast the stories of people from communities we represented.

But what’s it got to do with commuting, I hear you ask? More so, what’s it got to do with Blog Action Day and its theme, the “Power of We”?

Good question. Here’s what I am thinking.

As I’ve written about and supported community – geographic communities, workplace communities and now a community of niche – I’ve personally become seriously disengaged from community.

There is no “We”. There is barely any “me”, so how can there be a “We”.

I struggle to work eight-hour days, and then some, travel for four hours a day, stay central to family, manage a household, be a good friend (forget socialising, that flat-lined eons ago) and volunteer – it just doesn’t happen. Not well anyway.

I find myself reaching for communities I can understand. Ironically, there’s a core group of commuters I see daily. This group punctuates the start and finish of my working day with a black camaraderie particular to long-haul commuters. Bless them.

There’s you – the readers of this wee blog. Even when there’s no time to comment on your posts I lap up the connections that roll past me on this screen. You’re part of the “We” that gives meaning to the “me”.

There’s a saying, of which I can’t remember the words but I can recall the context because I share it with Girl Guides every camp I’m on.

Essentially, as the Guides and I collect wood ahead of cooking a meal I show them how easy it is to break one stick with my bare hands. As we continue to collect kindling, I challenge them to find the point where they can’t break the sticks without significant force and then the point where they can’t break the bundle at all. The sticks we collect are thin, the thinnest sticks required to get our fire started but there is a point where, as a collective, those sticks won’t break. I tell the girls that there is our “bundle”. As a group, we can’t break, we’re strong and if we’re strong, we can do anything.

I’m one stick in that bundle. One thin stick and, mate, I’m broken. That bundle is our “Power of We” and, folks, I’ve lost my bundle.

TELL ME: Who makes up your bundle?

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  1. gosh, these words are timely for me. the small kiddos can be pretty isolating for me. but more so, made me appreciate the hubs and his commute. i like the idea of me taking responsibility for my role in the bundle- at different times in your life you are strong and true and hold the others up, at other times you need support. hope you can find your bundle soon :)sarah

  2. What a wonderful metaphor. It reminds me of something I read a long time ago in a book. Of course I cannot remember the title or author of the book, but the author quoted someone named Taylor Barrett (for some reason I wrote that down when I wrote down this quote.) She said... "In Montana, I learned that though it is impossible to cross a swift, flowing river alone, you can cross safely if you link arms in a circle with your companions and turn like a wheel through the current. I find parallels to this in our everyday lives. You cannot cross the raging river alone, nor can you cross through life alone, despite the illusion of separateness we often entertain in this culture. You cannot stand by yourself; it is friends and family and the community we create - it is the church of each other - that support each of us in our lives and in our loves, that shore us up so we can stand tall."
    My bundle includes my immediate family and a few friends. I have lots of acquaintances that I enjoy, but the bundle includes only a few sticks. I think being somewhat introverted makes the bundle a little smaller, but perhaps the sticks are thicker?
    Really loved this post. Made me think and made me thankful for my bundle.

    1. Jenny, Thanks so much for your comment. It made my day when I read it and even made me a little teary to hear it made you think and made you thankful. What more could any little blogger hope to hear.

  3. Brilliantly written description of what is going on in your world. Though I am sorry to hear that your are broken at the moment, knowing it is important to make the changes to fix it.

    My life has really blossomed since I found my "bundle" 4 years ago. My daughter and I joined a community circus and just clicked with their whole lifestyle. Bliss.

    I hope you find a new bundle and give yourself a chance to bloom again.

  4. Don't lose your bundle!! But, f me, FOUR hours a day?!? You don't have time for a bundle, honey.

    Come back soon. I mIss you and you've forced me to comment to tell you so. x

  5. I'm really sorry to read you're feeling temporarily bundle-less, Kate. I probably should have commented when I read your post (approximately five minutes after it was written), rather than mulling on it for a few weeks and coming up with no more to offer now than then.

    One of my main bundles is feeling temporarily exploded after a couple of relationship grenades were tossed in to confuse everyone. I do have a smaller, closer, stronger bundle, but it's currently scattered by jobs, study and travel. At least I do have time to renew and nurture them at the moment, in stark contrast to when I was working and everyone knew not to call during deadline week.

    I know the feeling of being scraped thin across all fronts and sympathise. Maybe the only advice I can give is to opt out and go paddle the Yukon! (Although you end up penniless and unemployed, so...) I wonder if you can count wilderness as part of your bundle? I think I may have to, for what it gives me, in terms of deeper replenishment.

    1. Jen, you always write comments that sing to me at exactly the right time. Wilderness. For sure. My garden too at the moment. Paddle the Yukon. Not so sure the budget will stretch.

  6. I really enjoyed this post as well as the comment thread. It's my first time here - hello! My bundle includes my husband, two close friends, and my cousin who is also a close friend. These are the people who I can openly tell that I am breaking, and they always gather around (well, at least one of them will) to soften the snap and/or help put me back together again.

    1. Jill in a Box, Thank you so much for your comment and for dropping by. I am lucky enough to also have a supportive partner who has being doing their best at helping soften the snap and am, slowly gathering my sticks, so to speak.

  7. Your post rings very true for me. I've lost my bundle so many times over the course of my life from moving countries and house countless times as a child and as an adult. I really lost it though when we left the UK three years. We've moved three times in that time and I was broken and very lost for a long time. I'm happy now, and for the first time I'm content with what I have. I haven't real got a bundle (apart from a wonderful husband) - my family lives so far away, but I've learnt to deal with that by finding joy in myself, through my garden, through natural beauty around me and being able to express myself creatively. It changes though and just a few days ago I really noticed that I'm missing a bundle of sorts. It waxes and wanes. By the way, I always get so excited when I discover another local blogger. Nice to find you. x

  8. I discover commonalities to this in our daily lifestyle. You cannot mix the shooting stream alone, nor can you mix through lifestyle alone, despite the impression of separateness we often amuse in this culture.