Too Close For Comfort Or Too Isolated To Thrive?

By Nick Polizzi

A few months ago, my friend Mark and his fiancé decided to share their living space with another couple in order to cut down expenses and make more efficient use of their home. A truly noble idea, but I have to admit I was a little worried that they would regret giving up their privacy. After all, our homes are where we get some peace and quiet from the rest of the world, right? Mark is also particularly meditative and places a ton of value on silence!

Well, it seems as though I was mistaken. I had a chance to catch up with Mark yesterday and he gushed about the profound awakenings he’s had in the months since inviting the new couple (names withheld for privacy reasons) into their home. In short, his day to day life has taken on a deeper richness and he’s noticed a tremendous advantage in being able to divvy daily household tasks between four people instead of only two.

Beyond the practical advantages of this arrangement, Mark expressed some more transpersonal ones as well. He and the other fellow have formed a very strong bond, performing many of the hands-on outdoorsy chores together, and the ladies have really begun to nurture each other on a deep emotional level. All in all, Mark and Tara’s farmhouse seems to have developed into a harmonious eco-system.

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Hearing this inspiring, real-life account has me wondering if many of us are missing out on a more fulfilling and connected living arrangement.

I’ve met some of the happiest people while backpacking through developing countries that would be considered “poor” by America’s standards.  The shining contentment in the eyes of the hard working men and women in the pastures outside of Cuzco or in the crowded bazaars of Marrakech is truly striking. These people do not have much material wealth or private property, yet they are THRIVING within their tightly knit communities.

See our adventure into the Amazon here

What does this mean for those of us here in western society?  Are they too close for comfort or are we too isolated to thrive?

If you have a unique living arrangement that you would like to share below, please do!!!

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi
Director of The Sacred Science

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18 Responses

  1. The last four I’ve lived in appeared to be branches of Sociopaths Anonymous!

    I’ve come to the point in my life where I’d never share any space with anyone ever again. Either the world is full of cruel, spiteful and vindictive people or I’m the world’s biggest asshole.

    Being a hermit has never been so wonderful.

  2. I think many of us (Americans) are definitely “assholes” when it comes to sharing and closeness with others.
    It’s the ego thing, primarily, I guess.
    I understand Writingboy’s comments, but I do believe that if we go into a shared living arrangement, willing to look closely at our reasons for ill feelings toward roommates, we will come to appreciate each other and the myriad benefits of such an arrangement.
    Babysitting, child rearing, household chores, shopping, and open communication skills can all be greatly enhanced through shared living spaces, not to mention the monetary savings.
    It isn’t for everybody, but I believe it is a beautiful and beneficial direction for us to begin trending back to. I look forward to having a robot to do my housework, but I can’t imagine getting a warm and understanding hug from that robot! The only way love can be shared is through personal contacts. Technology rocks but love still rules.

  3. Hi Nick,

    I’ve found for myself that there is a time to be alone and a time to be in community. I spent 4 years living on my own doing lots of processing work. Now I live in community with my brother and his kids and love the sharing and the feeling of being part of a group that cares for each other. Sometimes that group is outside the home and sometimes its inside the home.

  4. My husband and I made the plunge to live with some people on Kaua’i island for 5 months. We’ve been here for three weeks now. We’re staying in a house with four other people, making six of us in total.

    There is another couple, a friend, and the couple’s grown son. We’re all sharing one living room, and one kitchen, and five of us are sharing one bathroom.

    In some ways this is very hard, but in other ways, it is amazing. We can “have a party” spontaneously with 5-6 people without leaving the house. We can all do choirs together and make the house clean in no-time. We contribute our skills to the group without asking for anything in return.

    One of the people who lives here is a TSA master, a special form of chiropractic work. She’s been working on all of us without asking for anything in exchange. We’ve all be sharing the foods we buy and prepare so everyone is getting to try a lot of new things.

    It’s only been three weeks, but I can definitely see why the trouble could be well worth-it in the long run.

  5. I am living with someone I met on a dating site. We are not lovers, just sharing the space. I keep the place clean, he is a great photographer and grows plants.

    I will look back on this someday and I want to be confident that I was supportive and peaceful.

  6. Since my husbands mother passed away 3 years ago, my father-in-law has spent much more time in our home. He comes over 3-4 days a week, sometimes spending the night in the guest room. I value my privacy and quiet time and NEVER thought I would want an older family member to come over so much, however I quickly began to enjoy his increased visits. I always thought he was a nice guy, but as I have gotten to spend more time with him and get to know him better, can see how much his investment in our lives benefits our kids, brings more game/social time with my husband (the 3 of us play strategy board games) and brings more joy and laughter in our house. I hope that he will want to move in with us whenever he is ready. He is a blessing to us!

  7. People feel incomplete by themselves, hence look for people outside of themselves to complete them. The real traveling begins when you travel inside yourself, not with a backpack. I’ve gone backpacking twice and i don’t see too much fun in it anymore. It can be fun once in a while though for a pleasant change and to experience nature and go hiking. Basically all these people who go backpacking want to experience some kind of a poor life, and experience love from strangers. When you love yourself totally you will not need other people all the time. Connecting with loved ones, once in a while will be enough. Backpacking is temporary escapism from responsibility and regular life.

    The first case where the couple decides to bring in another couple is pretty natural cause love stays between a couple when its shared with other people, so that sounds like a lot of fun.

  8. For about 5 years I lived (and feel I should say winded up “managing”) a house of full of roommates. We weren’t all crunchy college students with no jobs. We were young working professionals in NYC with various degrees etc.

    There were combinations that worked well. We grew gardens together,had social evenings together, food shopped for the house together…things flowed harmoniously.

    Then there were other combinations where things became resentful and ugly. Contributing to the home meant throwing money in a jar toward expenses, common areas used by all but not taken care of by all, etc. I remember arguing with a roommate about how a jar doesn’t grow legs and take itself to the store or order things online. Someone still has to do this and it’s a shared responsibility.

    At the end of the 5 years I was done with weaving in and out of different NYC roommates combinations.
    I learned for myself the key to it working is to live with somewhat like minded people. Not in a political sense… some of the best conversations had are ones when people see things differently. I mean people with similar values of respect and commitment to what a “home” environment should be. If not the whole thing falls apart.

  9. I’ve spent more of my adult life living in either communal or extended family living space than I have spent living in a couple living arrangement; currently, I live with my fiance and two cats. When we first moved here, a friend of mine rudely remarked about how small our studio apartment was and how he couldn’t imagine two people living here, and I had to explain we were a couple. For a year, my mom was sick and stayed here with us. When my brother was a single parent, we had an extended family with my mom, her boyfriend, my dad (they were divorced), my brother, and one or both of his daughters for quite some time.

  10. True community is precious. It is not just people living together, it is people bonding and nurturing each other as in this marvelous example.

    People used to be closer, families living in the same neighborhood, often in the same house, and kids having several sets of Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents (by blood and/or of the heart) to care for and nurture them.

    These days, I think too many people are isolated in their jobs or careers, and in their homes because they tend to socialize without bonding, do not have the opportunity to deeply recognize and share their beliefs and values, there does seem to develop a purpose of service and fellowship (even if that service is taking dinner to a sick friend or mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor whose children live in another state).

    For over a month last year, I stayed in ashrams in India, and the sense of community was heartwarming from the moment I stepped through the gates. I instantly became the newest member of the family, as did each person who entered. It was a unique and wonderful experience, and I hope someday to provide the opportunity for an ashram experience to folks here in the U.S.

  11. Nick you are such a blessing and the thing I love most about you is you are constantly paying it forward. Your post today & the four count meditation was exactly what I needed. Thank you!

  12. I am an itinerant writer. That is how an elder person of few means can keep writing books on the soul and ecology. My friends and family are allowing me to live with them. Moving from household to household I was deeply grateful for what I saw as support for me and my project. When I confronted one of my ego glitches, feeling afraid of being burdensome, I found what your friends discovered, the surprising fact that my presence among my extended family was a mutual gift. I have learned so much over the last 2 years of my writing journey, and become so much that my writing is more worth reading.

    Thanks for this post – I really appreciate your site and getting your notifications.

  13. I like this article and reading others experiences of communal living. In 2003 I was an actor on a rehearsal celebrity survival show in the wilderness in a remote forested part of Australia. There were 11 others. For a week we lived, ate, slept, cooked and related to each other with no distractions allowed in the campsite which we built for ourselves. In a surprisingly short time, 48 hrs, I bonded with all other participants. And being deprived of normal daily life, the experience with these people profoundly changed my worldview. I realized that 12 people is about the ideal number of people to live with, not the unnaturally conceived nuclear family I’d grown up with or created for myself as a young adult. My equal contributions to the group were needed and appreciated and I adjusted to find just the right amount of privacy and interaction with others. The richness of interaction surprised and nourished me. Our common purpose was surviving, and cooperation was the best way to do that. We were not in competition as it was only a 24/7 rehearsal show for the cameras/production team who were inaccessible to us to rehearse. We all very soon completely forgot the presence of hidden cameras. Through this life-changing experience I realized only four things are needed in life: food, water, warmth or shelter, and harmony. Harmony and not living with ill feelings was absolutely vital. I simplified my life greatly after this intense experience of community. And it prepared for later in my life when I lived and worked in remote aboriginal areas in the centre of Australia.

  14. Related to the article « Are they too close for comfort… », my boyfriend started opening his house to strangers through AirB&B, before I joined in, and everyone in the house, including his 3 children, is profitting from this experience. Yes, space is a bit restricted when we have guests (even more when it’s a whole family!), but discussions, sharings, openness to the other is so great! Never fear having less space or intimacy; you will always find a place or a time to get enough for your needs!

  15. When I read the title of the article I’ve been struck by a thought… this same argument can be applied for immigrants coming to our countries in hundreds every day and all myseries we see around the globe. Because, although they seem to happen “far away”, (maybe in another country, neighborhood o city) our thecnology brings them right to our homes. So no one cap escape from knowing what happens. While we try to turn away from them as if they would not exist.
    Really, I feel that is time to be more compassionate and open the eyes of our hearts.

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