Common Sense and Listening: A Dancing Rabbit Update

The kids definitely get a different perspective of the world by living at DR. Photo by Katherine
The kids definitely get a different perspective of the world by living at DR. Photo by Katherine

“Success is more a function of consistent common sense than of genius.” — An Wang, Boston Magazine, 1986

Everyday life at Dancing Rabbit seems reminiscent of these words. Katherine here this week, giving you less of a rundown of happenings here and more of a personal editorial on the state of common sense.

When I look at the world and see rapidly depleted resources, my mind says, “Use less water, make less waste, all around, just plain less.” When I look at the world and see war after war tearing apart nations and families, when I see that it is the everyday co that suffers when our leaders bicker about the price of oil and who that valley belongs to now, my mind says, “Why don’t we use our words instead of angrily drawing weapons? Where is our non-violent communication that may allow others’ perspectives to actually be heard and understood, rather than yelled over and bombed?” This is common sense, to me.

So why do I hear the political gossip of more wall building and hate speech? This does not seem like common sense to elect angry white men into office! How can we possibly tend to the needs of Mother Earth when we can’t even agree what color skin is the “right” shade, which deity I choose to hang with, and whether or not it’s any of your business if I like men or women?

I was raised with a notion that if I am happy, I am successful. If I am doing my life’s purpose then I am on the right track. While I fully support that notion, I have come to elaborate on that idea, that there is a responsibility to other people, and especially this planet, to make choices for the benefit of more than just my little being. I could be a totally happy person who uses copious amounts of paper plates and never washes a dish because mine are all plastic and a one-use product is easier on my lifestyle. Yes, not doing dishes could make me happy, thus in this equation, successful. Now I am not so sure that this math all adds up.

I am taken back to 1984 (yes, the year of my birth but in this instance I mean the book and Brave New World (respectively by George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, circa 1949 and 1932). These stories about dystopian futures seem not so wild when I look at the reality of the United States today; don’t spend time mending your clothes when you need to go out and buy next season’s trends anyway. Are you feeling unfulfilled in life? Have you actually tried to identify what is going on with your job, spouse, and livelihood, or are you staying where you are and popping Soma tablets to just numb out? Are you truly happy in your endeavors or are you yelling at random strangers in the drive-thru McDonalds because you don’t know them, may never see them again, and so what could the possible ramifications be?

I guess that common sense to me is taking responsibility for my own actions. If we all concentrated on being our best selves then maybe there would be less of a need to control others and the impact that we allow them to have on us. I have heard that community is the Land of 1000 Mirrors and gosh darn, I believe that to be true.

Want to know the impression that you leave on people? Want to know when you are being a truly compassionate soul and when that sarcastic comment did not land well? Find your community and you just may find yourself. Even if you do not have 40 other adults around to let you know, children sure do reflect the dickens out of our behavior.

Are you really patient with your child and speak to them in a normal tone of voice like the real person that they are? Just because they are short does not mean that they do not pick up what you are throwin’ down. Body language makes up over 50% of our communication* and where do our children come from if not our bodies? Their intellectual and emotional well being is dependent on their caregivers from the moment the cord is cut, and the awareness is there, though it may not be as plain as the cute little nose on their face.

I do have to “say” that it seems super weird to be writing this article right now as I have chosen to take a day of silence in my community. For the year of 2016, at the end of every month, I am taking silent days to reflect on the recent past and just listen. I am listening to the wind blow around my house and the children play in the neighborhood. I am sitting in meetings and listening to where people are with their perspectives without lending my own.

I am allowing a co to cry on my shoulder without comforting words, just comforting hugs. I am noticing when people say hello to me without looking at me, missing that I am offering a salutation in return. I experience the different cultures of personal growth in my own village; one co was confused by my silence and asked if I could even try to speak. After five minutes of gesturing on the path, they figured out that this was a choice.

Another co, after saying hello and receiving a slightly knowing smile and wave said, “Oh, taking a silent day I see.” The point of this exercise in self-discipline is to raise my awareness of the world in a very different avenue than I usually venture. If my actions happen to permeate and affect other’s awareness positively, then more power to us! In the Land of 1000 Mirrors, personal growth can be catching by just witnessing the act. Observing the journey of one may lead another’s thoughts down their own road of self-actualization.

This is the year that I slow down and become even more intentional with my words, actions, and emotions. I know that my being ripples out and affects the entire world (as does yours) and I truly want my waves to be positive, strong, and beautiful.  I will listen, I will watch, and I will impact my environment with ideas more grand then one co may hold; it will take a village and a little common sense.

*Mehrabian, A. (1972). Nonverbal Communication. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction.

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How can it be March already?!? Time flying means that visitor season is just around the corner: our first visitor session starts April 18th! To apply for it, or one of the other 2016 sessions, click here!

Like Dancing Rabbit and want to support our work? Join @ClimateRide this year and enjoy a life-changing 4-5 day journey, while raising funds for your favorite non-profit and making a difference for the future. Learn more and register here!

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Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.


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