Last night I joined two clubs. In one, I’m the treasurer. My job is to make sure there is enough money to buy ice cream. In the other, I had to undergo a stressful initiation which included moving animals from one place to another and kicking a ball. Did I mention that all the other members of these clubs are five?
Sting once sang, “Men go crazy in congregations; they only get better one by one.” And I have always come down on Sting’s side on the whole group thing. I was never very successful at it. I joined Girl Scouts because all my friends did, but I didn’t care much for it. I sold almost no cookies and only earned one badge. Then in high school, I made the Flags Corps. Once again, I tried out because I didn’t want to be the only one of my friends without a place on the football field on Friday nights. I was horrible. I’m just grateful that this was the time before YouTube, or I would never outlive the embarrassment.
I even hated group work in college. My favorite group project was in graduate school when everyone else in the group dropped the class, and I researched and gave the report alone.
Still, I could understand where my little friends were coming from. There is something appealing about a club, even when you don’t have the personality to be a member of such a group, maybe even more so then. Who hasn’t read books about kids in their tree houses or secret clubs and all the fun adventures they had? But the groups I belonged to never had such fun adventures. No one in the books ever had to make an apron or egg-carton flowers as I did in the clubs I joined.
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making egg-carton flowers. The problem was that there was always a disconnection between the groups and me. I realize now that I was so afraid of being the only person not in the club that I joined groups that held little interest for me. The irony was that I was so unhappy at the thought of being left out that I joined groups that made me unhappy. A real Zen puzzle.
Still, I was happy to be asked to join the clubs yesterday evening. For one reason, I’m pretty sure both clubs ceased to exist the minute I left for home. And that there will be new clubs to join the next time I visit. For another, these were the best type of clubs: Everyone was admitted, and if you couldn’t pass the initiation ritual, the rules mysteriously changed to make sure you got in after all. And third, well, come on, these were clubs about eating ice cream and kicking ball in the house!