Moving to Salt Spring Island is by far one of the best life changes I’ve ever experienced. There have been so many positive things to come out of making the move from the big city of Vancouver to the more natural, slower-paced, beautiful piece of paradise that we now call home.
Being part of such a small, close community on our little island has both benefits and drawbacks. I suppose this is to be expected, seeing as there are pros and cons to everything in life.
Counting up the pros, I would have to include familiarity. Now, this may not be a “pro” for everyone, but for me, it is. When I’m out and about, running errands, grocery shopping, or playing at the park with my little one, there are always multiple people I bump into that I know. Sometimes they are people I know well, like a good friend or even a relative, and just as often they are people I know in passing, seeing each other at the Strong Start program, the ball field, playgrounds, or the many other places we flit in and out of. No matter who it is, we always smile and nod, and will likely even strike up some chat about this, that, or the other thing.
I love it. I love knowing who the people I share my environment with are. I love knowing their names (even if I forget them with my scattered mama brain), knowing who their children are, knowing where they live, what they do. I love this so much because it makes me feel like a part of something. It makes me feel like I’m safe, and that my existence hasn’t gone unnoticed. In contrast to the city, where a lot of people seem to stick their noses up or down, averting their eyes as if they don’t see anyone else but their own reflections in the store windows, this is practically heaven for me.
Becoming familiar with these people that we all share a big rock in the Pacific Ocean with, seeing each other so often wherever we go, something happens.
We can’t help but see the best in each other.
When someone succeeds, we tend to hear about it. We see it in the paper. On the Exchange. Through the grapevine, word gets around, and gets around quickly. We congratulate each other, and send well wishes. With fewer people to get lost in the crowd, we are more able to see the best of each other, and feel inspired by what the other has done, how they carry themselves, their kindness, their level-headedness, their talents, their awesome.
But nothing is complete without a dark side.
While living in a small community gives us the opportunity to get to know the best in each other, we are also made blatantly aware of the worst, as well. Every fight, every affair, every wrong deed, they all find a way of working themselves out into the eyes and ears of the community. When you’re having a rough day and it shows all over you, the people who know you (who are everywhere) see it. Even if it’s not seen first hand, that small-town gossip spreads like wildfire.
We all know the worst of each other, too.
And somehow, I find this comforting in itself as well.
You see, knowing that each person can be both wonderful and… well… less than wonderful, this reminds us that we’re all human. Not one of us is perfect. We all have our good and our bad. We all have days that we are on top of our game, and days where we ooze frustration. We all have emotions and levels of patience and sanity that change day to day.
We are all awesome.
Just not all the time.
And this, my friends, is what I believe makes small community living so much more honest and wholesome than life where you have no idea who the person to your left and your right is.
We see eachother. We recognize our faults as well as our best qualities, and we carry on. We have nowhere to hide, and life must go on. We realize our imperfection, and yet we still nod and smile and commune together.
You learn not to pass judgement so quickly on others, when it’s easy for everyone to see the imperfection in yourself, as well.
It’s actually quite freeing to be seen in such honest lighting. When we accept another, and are accepted as we are by others, we are reminded that we are worthy of our own acceptance, too.