Independence through interdependence
Interdependence is a key difference between cohousing and other kinds of retirement communities. In the latter, paid caretakers provide services, and residents become dependent, without a way to help others.
Interdependence in a cohousing community is a natural result of sharing common spaces, living close together, bonding through activities, and getting to know each other while running the community.
Many things are easier and more enjoyable when we do them together. Walking or biking, carpooling, sharing a trip to the grocery store, or taking public transportation to classes, art museums, concerts and lectures. Cooking a meal together, helping each other re-pot plants or even tackling a deep cleaning project — this give-and-take relationship is satisfying and helps us accomplish more than we could alone.
Cultivating meaning and purpose
Cohousing encourages connection and contemplation by:
- Offering opportunities to connect with each other regularly.
- Helping us grow through the commitment and effort needed to live together.
- Fostering a feeling of belonging and breaking us out of loneliness and isolation.
- Allowing us to create something larger than ourselves.
- Providing shared spaces designed for connection and private spaces for reflection.
Saging – the wisdom of age
The concept of saging, described by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in his book From Aging to Sage-ing (https://sage-ing.org), expresses the belief that our usefulness as people has no expiration date. We are never over the hill. Rather, we have a great deal to give back to the world that has given us so much.
The qualities of saging qualities include openness, flexibility, compassion, intellectual curiosity and humility. Cohousing provides opportunities to practice compassionate listening, take a nonjudgmental and non-adversarial attitude, and become comfortable with diverse points of view.
Making peace with death and dying
Woven into the warp and weft of existence, death can deepen our appreciation of life. The more we embrace our mortality as something that motivates us to live our lives fully, the more our anxiety can transform into feelings of awe and gratitude. In our society, detachment from death makes it frightening and mysterious. The ability to age, get sick and die in community makes this process part of a lifetime of belonging.