An Abundance of Potions

Day 4 – Friends of Proximity

Good morning to all 190 readers. Thank you for sending me your poems, practical wisdom, and acts of care. —Jack

Today’s challenge: Start or join a neighborhood pod.

When you were a child, your friends were, most likely, ones of proximity: The other kids in your building, in your neighborhood, or at your school. Their interests became your interests, and yours became theirs, buoyed by what you had in common: The fact that you were kids, and you lived in the same place.

As you got older, graduated, traveled, settled elsewhere, found work—perhaps built a career, or started a company—so grew your network. You made friends from other shared experiences: Class, race, belief, ethnicity, orientation, vocation, politics, ability— friends, in other words, who understood what it was like to be you. Neighbors, in other words, of the spirit. An invisible lace draped over the world.

As vital as these neighbors of spirit are, so too are the older kinds of neighbors, the original kinds of neighbors—with whom you might not share the same deep connection of your neighbors of spirit. Their vitality is in their differences; a pile of books, with little in common, besides the fact that they are books, and they are on the same shelf.

Remember: You have a body, and that body exists in a place. That "little in common" is, even moreso now, a lot.

Maybe you are already closely connected to your neighbors. Or at least, connected to a few. Maybe you casually wave when you see each other, but don’t really talk. Or maybe you don’t know your neighbors at all. Today is a good day to start getting to know.

Learn from those who’ve already done it, like the Medford and Somerville MAMAS, who have posted instructions on how to form a neighborhood pod. Check to see if a pod already exists in your building, on your block, or in your neighborhood. If so, join it. If one exists but the conversation has grown stale, start it up again. If a pod doesn’t exist, form one. You can begin with the neighbor or three you are closest with, and grow from there. The MAMAS recommend WhatsApp, and services like Signal and Telegram work well too. We use the latter in our own neighborhood.

Make friends of proximity again, and heed poet Lynn Ungar’s advice:

Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

(h/t Lauren B)