Packs

I love packs, because — like everyone — I long to belong. I don’t just join them, though; I like to make them. I make packs like I smack my gum — instinctively and unaware. I have always known this, but I just realized this morning what a consistent theme it has been throughout my life.

I have made packs at any job or in any team I’ve ever cared about. While every pack is a team, not every team is a pack. As 5+8 pack member Katy Holton points out, “Packs are more personal than a team, even primal.” I love this distinction. Though one individual connection may be flimsy, the multiple and varied connections in a pack make it almost impossible to break. When you’re in a pack, it just feels different. A team cheers for one another, but a pack fights for one another.

I remember every pack I ever called home. My first pack was a bunch of 11-year-olds playing football in the street and throwing snowballs at passing plows. It wasn’t until high school that I thought I found one again, but I was wrong and abruptly realized that packs are precious.

I have more packs now than any man could ever ask for. Each one represents a period in my life when I belonged. A group of best mates for the last 20 years, an entire company of people I love, and a family with an actual Wolf in it. They all matter to me, and I matter to them.

I just finished the beautiful podcast The Oral History of The Office, which is when this epiphany arrived. Apparently, the actors in The Office were just as close as the fictional characters in the show. They were a bunch of strangers, just like how you start out in any office, and then they made a pack. This concept was best articulated in the series finale by Creed:

“It all seems so very arbitrary. I applied for a job at this company because they were hiring. I took a desk at the back because it was empty. But no matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.”
- Creed Bratton

Everything is better with a pack, and every addition brings something new. It’s like a bouillabaisse of buddies. Every member of the pack enhances it to make it more uniquely your pack. Most importantly, a pack gives you a place to feel safe, seen, and encouraged. If you don’t have a pack, go find one — or better yet, make one.

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