"I'll fight you for it."
"No fighting. The more the merrier."
"I'll bring sesame noodles."
"I have chicken."
"I was about to cook eggplant parmesan... I'm bringing that too!"
"We'll have a feast."
"See you soon... and by soon, I mean whenever I get around to putting pants on."
It started with a group Facebook message. Five minutes later two of my best friends, their babies, and various incongruous entrees tromped into my house. Just like that. No preparation. No fuss. We tomahawked a bottle of wine, heated up three different dinners that all ended up tasting amazing together, and chattered for hours about everything.
I swear it's not the wine talking, but I'm about to get really sappy... because I'm feeling ALL THE LOVE.
This, my dear friends, is life! Real Life. The way it was meant to be. The way it has been through history until very recently.
This is joy. This is meaning.
This is why I don't worry about being poor.
This is why I don't fret about whether or not I will be able to achieve a noteworthy job title.
Because I belong. My children belong. Because of our people, we have a place.
True wealth is not measured in units of currency but in memories, stability, and loving community. You can't buy that. It is the only thing that really gives joy and helps when you're hurting.
The first time that God ever identified anything wrong with creation was when he said, "It's not good for a person to be alone."
We were not created to pour ourselves into ourselves for the sake of ourselves.
We were created for each other.
When we live connected to one another, we are at home in our own hearts, in the world, and in our place in history. The turbulent uncertainty, the lack of meaning, the pervasive FOMO ("fear of missing out") that so often plagues our generation... it all seems thin and insubstantial when you're surrounded by stories you're invested in, faces you love, people who are committed to life with you through thick and thin.
I watched a documentary once that showed Tanzanian women just sitting under a tree, watching their babies, chatting, peeling sticks. For hours. Day after day. At the time, I was living at such a frenetic pace pursuing career and wealth and prestige, I couldn't even begin to wrap my mind around how they could do it. "Aren't they bored to death? I would just get depressed and die with so little purpose. It seems like a wasted life. What's the point?"
Now I understand.
When life is all about My Story is it one dimensional, vapor thin, and so liable to failure. But when life is about us, there is depth and color and character. One stumbles, the other supports. We need less stuff, because we have more love. We don't have to struggle to extend ourselves into the future through our childrens' performance (thereby overtaxing them and burdening them with conditional love)... we're free to let them be free because because we're happy! We see that the present is beautiful just as it is.
Find your people, People.
They won't be perfect. You may not feel a connection right away. You probably won't instantly gel. But pick some folks. Commit to each other. Celebrate together weekly. Find ways to meet needs and show love and listen. Discuss. Play. Sing. Goof off. Be serious. Be ridiculous. Before you know it, you'll be rich beyond your wildest imagination.