Monday, October 28, 2013


This summer we had been sitting outside on the terrace of a restaurant basking in an early morning sun and chatting about our work, some of our challenges and life in general.  We were all artists.  Career professionals.  One of us mentioned how she missed her tribe.  She used to have a studio in a building with many other artists and now her new studio was much bigger and certainly more beautiful.  This new space was isolated from the other like-minded people that she used to interact with in the old location.

Missing her tribe.  It impressed me as something quite meaningful. What is this contingent of people we call our tribe?  Who has their name branded in my mind as members of my tribe?

When I was a teenager I felt quite isolated and alienated from a lot of people my age. My few friends were older and I had a friendship with their parents as well.  I was bookish and stuck in my inner circle of happenings.  My life was spent on a section of our roof turning pages, dreaming, thinking. There I was isolated and brewing what I would later write and create and show at the galleries of the time.   One of my friends called me "The lonely light of Debussy."   I lived in Debussy; a neighborhood courting the mountains in Haiti.  My tribe was very small but it was mine and important.  It help define who I was.

As I grew, it grew with me and then I left my whole tribe to go live with my artist cousin in Puerto Rico.  And living there and moving became a trend.  Find a tribe in a country, like it a lot, move to another country, grieve and create another tribe.  Living here in America gave me a sense of stability.  But I still wonder about all the people whom I love but that are away and yet still a part of me. They are like a magical part of my previous reality and at times with a quick e-mail or a phone call, they fill my heart with joy and drown me in memories.

I have finally accepted that the tribe is composed of different people in different places even different countries and what links us all is the warm, unseen feelings we have for each other.  They are a tribe because I like or love them all. Even though some people had come to challenge me and are now better forgotten. Yet they are alive in my mind and brighten my soul with a few words whether written or told.

My family is only a part of it. They are the tribe I was born into but never had to choose. They include a big sense of shared memories of a life lived close to one another and the common bond of having been raised in the same context and knowing the same crowds and loving or disliking what they had to give. There are some members we do not see as our tribe.  They seem like aliens and difficult.  So unlike us. Even when attached to us by some blood bonds.  I guess they are best becoming a part of someone elses tribe but their skeletons remain a part of our path.

I also have a family of friends that mean so much and are chosen to be my companions along the way.  They did not come into my life with my birth or theirs as is in a family.  They were chosen because we shared a common ground, an affinity, a natural connection, maybe a specialty and met by circumstances that created our closeness.  Sometimes they come and go sometimes they stay as beloved sentinels.  They keep our soul intact.

But between all of those people, we have our inner tribe.  The ones so very close to us that understand us truly and seem to touch us with simple words or simply a look.  The ones that give solace and inspiration, the ones that seem to create a road that we follow and always lead us to joy or inspiration.

So how is your tribe?  Do you have different ones and collected a few along the way? And where do you stand with them all?  How do you feel about living with the inevitability of a tribe?

Life in its complexity provides us at different times with different connections. The people that like us have a similar goal, a like or dislike or a simple affinity and path that bind us to them. Sometimes we also run away from people in our tribe and that is our choice.  That makes them an elemental and fulfilling part of our growth, our aspirations and of course our tribe here on earth.

Copyright 2013 Micheline Brierre