JIM FURLONG | Belonging

*Originally published in our May 29-June 4, 2022 issue

It’s an odd concept “to belong” to something, but I’m convinced it’s an important part of being a human.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail inviting me to be a part of the annual general meeting of the Avalon Liberal Association. Do you know I actually considered it for at least a little bit? The internal decision in my head was swung by the fact it was a “virtual meeting.” 

No hotels, no beer by the barrel, no late nights or free stuff. I mentioned all this to someone I knew that I had considered it and she said, “You just want to BELONG to something.” 

You know, upon further review as they say in sports, she was right. We all want to be part of something. We want to belong.

‘Leafs Nation’

The opening to the TV series Cheers always struck an emotional chord in my heart. Individuals finding relief from some awful emptiness by being in a bar sipping beer. The benefits were spelled out. Cheers was a bar, “Where everybody knows your name.” That defines a kind of salvation from the realization that on some important level; you are alone and the path you walk is often by yourself.

The Toronto Maple Leaf experience is like that. It’s the failure of a team over decades and a failure the edge of which is blunted in some way and a salve applied to a wound by making it a shared experience. The approach is given life by an expression that I love, and it is “Leafs Nation.” That expression could bring tears to my eyes. 

Tsunami of lost hope

So many people brought together in a great tsunami of lost hope and disappointment somehow made at least bearable by a shared experience and a confirmation of the truth that each year when an NHL team wins a championship, 25 teams lose.

In the middle of that emotional angst, you are at least not alone. You belong to something. You are Leafs Nation  There’s a religious aspect to it. A shared set of beliefs and someone to stand with you. 

Consider if you will now a line from Leonard Cohen. It’s to me one of his very best lines. It’s from Dress Rehearsal Rag, and references a 17th century metaphysical mystical group still active in the 21st century called the Rosicrucians. To wit: “Why don’t you join the Rosicrucians they will give you back your hope.” 

It’s in the end all about belonging. The Rosicrucians, the Leafs, Cheers or the Avalon District Liberal association. It’s the great struggle to belong to something and avoid the great consequence of being in the universe on your own.

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

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