People drive me crazy. It doesn’t matter if we are similar or different (because, honestly, we are all similar AND different), as long as people are people, and living in community is defined as the continued relationship between and among people, I will have to live with the temporary fits of insanity.

In fact, if it wasn’t for the general lack of nature skills required to do so and, let’s be honest, the complete lack of desire to attain said skills, I would seriously consider devoting myself to the wild, isolated life of an uncivilized, backwoods hermit. Unfortunately, mankind is going to great lengths to make uncivilized, backwoods areas so rare that even if I could find one, I couldn’t afford a single blade of grass, much less an entire plot. Fortunately for me, that means the closest I am forced to get to “roughing it” is an interior room with spotty wireless or, heaven forbid, dial-up Internet connection.

My roommate, on the other hand, is basically designing her own master’s curriculum, specializing her education in order to best equip herself to actively create and pursue her dream job of mixing education and outdoor activities. I wish I could explain it better than that but, honestly, I don’t really understand it—not like she does. And I think that’s awesome.

That’s the beautiful thing about community. I don’t have to understand everything. We don’t have to see everything the same way. In fact, it’s the mixture of similarities and differences, the complements and contrasts, on which community thrives and grows.

A couple of people told me the other day that they felt like they didn’t fit in with a group gathered to discuss a topic they love because their thought processes were too structured compared to the abstract processes of the others in the group. While I understood what they were getting at logically, emotionally, I was quite indignant. Here was a room full of people setting aside time to meet together, learn, and encourage each other to grow in an area we were all passionate about, and what the people I talked to walked away with wasn’t how our common passions could bring us together, but rather how their differences, even within that love, might keep them apart.

However, the more I think about it, the more their reaction just makes me sad—not only for them, but for our community as well, because the differences they listed as reasons to withdraw are, to me, the very reasons for them to participate; what they see as obstacles, I see as opportunities for them to grow personally and to challenge others. I’m sad not just because I think interacting with people of a different mindset within our community could challenge them, but also because I know it would challenge others, myself included. I’m sad because, as great as I think I am, one of me is enough; I can’t imagine how bored and/or frustrated I would be in a community of people just like me.

I’m sad because, honestly, it’s not my lack of nature skills or escalating real estate prices that keep me from withdrawing to the wild, it’s the joy of participating in that wild, crazy, and diverse community, united under One Love, from which I so often claim to want reprieve. And seeing people missing out on that joy, especially when they’re part of the community and living in the middle of it…well, that makes me very, very sad and drives me crazy, to boot.