I moved to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage with my family, almost two years ago, with a fair assumption that I would be challenged to grow in myself, with this planet and in relation to other beings. At that time, I had only grasped a drop of the ocean I would soon be swimming in. Prairie here with another dip into my Dancing Rabbit life.
I like a good challenge. Except for when I don’t. My bandwidth for challenging myself varies throughout the day, though it generally shrinks when I am faced with trying something new. Last Monday, for instance, ended my weekend very abruptly. I did not want to go to work knowing that Ted would most likely find something different and potentially challenging for my young and comparatively inexperienced mind. Instead, I wanted to lay in bed and listen to the birds sing and watch the sky light up the leaves of the honey locust outside my window. Sometimes, I need courage to take the smallest actions, like getting out of bed and meeting my day while not knowing what is to come.
I have gradually grown comfortable and familiar with the Osage Gardens, where the Ironweed dining co-op gets the majority of its produce, and where I have been spending most of my mornings. That morning I learned about tomato hornworms, harvested some of the first green beans this year, sprayed brassicas with an organic insect deterrent called BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), and one of my favorite activities: canoeing on what we call the duckweed pond, where I gather — you guessed it — duckweed, which we feed to the chickens. I love chickens for some reason.
It was the next morning that really pushed me to step out of my comfort zone. After a game of Ultimate Frisbee and some impromptu kombucha tasting (courtesy of Avi), Ted and I wheeled, wrestled and weaved a three-hundred-foot long electric pipe around three of the village houses: Dorothy’s place, Casa Kale and Lobelia. The massive, serpentine coils were heavy, hot and resistant. But we survived! Kyle worked hard digging a trench for it, and now all we need to do is lay in a few electric cables, clean up the trench a little, attach the pipe to the circuit box, push that snake into the ground, and probably some other things I don’t know about yet.
During the ordeal, I realized that I could still enjoy myself while I was being challenged, and that I didn’t have to understand how things were going to work, or know what I was doing, or have any previous experience, to feel alive and in the moment. In retrospect, I think the moments of my life that feel the most outlandish, outside of my norm, and even difficult, fill me with the most vitality and a sense of truly living. But there is definitely something to be said about the sweet spots in life that feel easy and natural.
Perhaps challenges strengthen our ability to stay present and aware as we tread the calm waters of comfort and ease, when we get to stretch and soothe sore muscles. As I harvested basil, dill and cilantro for my cook-shift, and prepared a meal for my kitchen members on the following day, I certainly felt calm and rejuvenated.
I needed that break from new things, because on Thursday I was introduced to a cellulose blower. I spent an hour getting to know just how fast it can break down cellulose. I was covered in the dust from head to toe by lunch time.
Later that day, I found myself in an NVC (non-violent communication, or compassionate communication) practice group. This is the third group I have attended since moving here. There was an abundant crowd, and equally diverse stories and experiences to learn from. I’m very excited to continue to grow with these people. (Thanks, Dan, for finishing up with the cellulose while I attended the practice group!)
For the next three weeks I will be holding down the fort at Ironweed and Osage, Ted and Sara’s house, while they spend some time in Maine visiting friends, family and the sea.
While the weather has been beautiful, and very unusual for this time of year, it may be too much to hope for it to continue that way. I’ll savor what I can get of cool wind and a gentler sun. Maybe we’ll even get some more rain.
Thanks for reading everyone. I hope you find your challenge and stick with it!
Are you ready to dive deep into your own ocean of enlivening challenges? Join us for two weeks of learning, growing, and lots of fun, in our two-week visitor program. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to enjoy the calm waters of relaxation as well, including a chance for a tangible dip in our luxurious swimming pond. As of right now, we have only four slots left for the upcoming session on August 11th, and they could go fast, so don’t miss your chance. We’d love to have you.