I’ve written about “Life Clubs” every day for the last 360 days. While some Life Clubs are joined voluntarily (Marriage Club, Motherhood Club, Tattoo Club), others are more like a military draft and you get inducted into the club whether you like it or not (Alcoholic Mother Club, Aunt Died Club, Apartment Got Flooded Club). The guiding principle for all Life Clubs is you join by overcoming experiences which you can only truly understand after going through them first hand. You imagine what it’s like to have a baby until it’s nothing like that at all. Also, unless you’ve dealt with insurance companies and contractors, you can’t exactly relate. But if you have, you are high-fiving another person who really understands. And while we’re at it, a tattoo is worse than ant bites. Membership to most clubs is irrevocable and permanent.
Life clubs are how we can connect to one another and they transcend sociological, economic, and religious classifications. They are invisible fraternities and there are no pins to wear on our jackets to let others know “hey, we’ve been there…join the club.”
It has always been easy for me to have conversations with strangers; I can find something to discuss with just about anyone. Maybe it’s my college journalism training, or it stems from my innate curiosity of fellow humans but I’ve been fascinated with stories (or gossip) since I was a toddler. I love seeing inside strangers apartments, hearing about their innermost disappointment and heartbreak. We all relate to sad stories and rally around the underdog. I believe our intuitive empathetic tendencies are strong. We read blogs and memoirs of strangers, get wrapped up in their lives all because we can somehow relate. Reading about other tragedies keeps us grateful; at any time, anyone of us is grieving or suffering in some way. We cry at movies not because we mourn the loss of a fictional character, but because we’ve imagined ourselves in that scenario. Seeing a great love story plagued by cancer onscreen makes you hold your loved one that much tighter in bed. We seek validation from others to remind us that we are not alone, that we are OK, and that someone else went through it and came out the other side…Stronger.
At the beginning of my commitment to writing every day, I imagined I’d write about a different club every day, telling the story of my life up until now. What I quickly learned was life dictates stories faster than I can transcribe them. Anything I went through, no matter how frustrating or disappointing, felt different because I knew it was just another club to join – to write about, sure, but more importantly to add it to my roster of things I know about from the inside.
I was always afraid to take on the title “artist” yet for 360 days this year I became a performance artist putting on a written show for an invisible audience. I created the art and was its subject. I wanted to control it all but instead, it organically took on a life of its own and I had no choice but to smile and join the clubs.