I wrote this a while back but it seemed very apt to publish it today - I wonder how the EU referendum will change and shape the communities that we're part of?
I was riding into town, on a beautiful day in London and got a little 'head nod' from a fellow rider coming the other way, and that's when I realised how I could write this blog...Which I've been thinking about for months.
Its not my religion, my background, my social setting or beard that I love - its communities: being part of something, that you feel part of. Whether it's a 'head nod' to a fellow facial hair grower, a push on the worn-leather-wheel to a passing classic car, or a thumbs up to a good friend...its all part of it!
I've been involved in a number of communities from Football Clubs to Classic Car Clubs but one of the most apparent, due to my upbringing and social circles, has to be my religion. I find it very difficult to speak with an unbiased perspective, as I know no different. I was brought up by a Jewish family, went to Hebrew lessons on a Sunday morning and played football for a Jewish club, hence 80% of my friends are Jewish. But, I've always been one to step outside of my circles and meet new people, make new friends and explore new cultures. I suppose aside from travel, the first big change was secondary school as unlike a lot of friends I didn't go to a Jewish school, and then University, where I was the first Jew that some of my closest friends today had ever met.
Up until recently I used to think this was one of the most important communities that I had ever been part of and it is certainly up there and a very important one to me. But for someone that is not very religious I find this almost hypocritical. We are a family that become Jewish for about 5 days a year (on the important festivals), we eat bacon and rarely go to shul (synagogue) so I think its fair to say that there are other 'communities' that are just as important. Not to mention that some of my closest friends are non-Jewish and I've never dated a Jewish girl. And, I'm also a science geek who doesn't believe that our amazing planet was created in 7 days!
One of my favourite 'communities' is the Hackney Community and this was re-enforced by the Hackney Half Marathon last month. I lived there for 2 years and it was without doubt the best two years of my life. I love the weird and wonderful yet crazy and caring people, I love the random pop ups and hidden speakeasy's, but most importantly I love the community of people that hold it together.
When 15,000 of us set off to run 13.1 miles in 28 degrees heat I didn't know what to expect but had heard great things. Firstly, the drunk homeless man at mile 3 cracked me up, shouting at us all to hurry up, then there was the women with her hose around mile 5 helping everyone cool down, from the blistering heat, but the most memorable for me was the awesome girl who handed me an ice cube at Broadway market which literally saved my life. There were families on the street handing out sweets and water, and kids just wanting to get a little high five and I cant thank them all enough for their support.
Now this is a group of people that don't know each other, have never seen each other and have no affiliation to each other, except that they are together in one place at the same time, and a place that I love, as its cries out and overflows with so much 'community' - I get excited when I just step off the train.
From bikes and beards to Movember and meditation, it's taken this long for me to appreciate how important these communities are and how many I'm actually part of but the most important community of them all has to be my friends and family.
We are all part of many communities, ones that we probably don't even realise and pop up when we need them most, and I'm sure that we are also part of communities that actually do very little for us. So think about where you invest your time!