Being a teenager in a village of inspiring, powerful, knowledgeable people has its perks and quirks. For one thing, I have never before found myself in such a vastly diverse group of people that are so passionate about living their like-minded values, with equally varied strategies for upholding those values. Prairie here, with an update on northeast Missouri’s frostiest ecovillage.
I want my writing to look like Ben’s, I find myself thinking as I reach into the past couple weeks for something flattering to speak about; an insight, a change. If you have had the pleasure of reading his work, you may know what I mean when I say it is articulate, colorful, and adequately lengthy, like the massive maple leaves that have fallen around the path to the northwest of my home. He stubbornly captures the throes of raw humanness. I want to do that!
On another note, didn’t Thanksgiving occur not even two weeks ago? An epic potluck of deliciousness took place over here for dinner that day, with games before and after. Folks circled for the meal and spoke in gratitude, celebrating the gifts this life has offered. My friend Alyson led a song for which she arranged the melody. Then… the dining. So, I like desserts, and there was a whole island in the kitchen covered almost completely in pies. Being gluten free and abstaining from processed, sugary things makes it tricky to enjoy such sweets. Lucky for me there were two that met my dietary preferences. Score! Did you celebrate Thanksgiving?
One of the highlights for me was walking into our Common House great room and seeing expertly placed candles, specifically dimmed overhead lighting, colored tablecloths, small, strung lights and an intimate, cozy collection of individuals I knew and deeply admired.
I found out later that Mark decorated the space. I want to decorate like Mark one day.
Though I lean towards seeing the brightness people here bring into my life (sometimes literally), the expectations I hold for myself often run higher than my practical limits can reach. As a growing individual unfurling my wings, I tend to knock things over and bump into sharp corners. (That is a metaphor, though I have injured myself playing hide-and-seek-in-the-dark-tag on cold nights in our community building. But that’s another story.)
Humanness, I am finding, tends toward messiness and imperfection — exquisite opportunities for a sense of humility, if I am willing to see it that way. Frequently, though, I find myself ruminating in regret over what went wrong. For instance, the turnip greens I harvested over a month ago, stored with only the thought of preventing them from freezing outside, forgot about, then found a month later, a gooey, brown mess I did not want to clean up. In retrospect, the beauty of forethought holds a sweet sense of potential. Definitely more appealing than the smell of that produce.
Our twice-weekly Ultimate Frisbee games pose a regular challenge in accepting my inescapable shortcomings. Gradually, though, I am warming to the notion that I am not the only imperfect human alive (surprise, surprise). Everyone drops the Frisbee at some point. No one can hold impeccable defense for an hour. I still want to run as fast as Emory, though. My only advantage seems to be our height difference.
Last Friday, we held a prom-themed dance party after dinner. Seeing songs pour through each individual, then be expressed completely uniquely to their own person, was an excellent experience in acknowledging my own motions, and how they need not be perfect, graceful, predictable, or easeful — simply my own.
I continue to see shoots of green around my village, daring the cold to return. I have seen people in t-shirts throughout the past week, and my own bare feet taking on as much earth as possible. It’s muddy here, dead in many places, and still dying in others. That’s just how nature goes.
Residents of Dancing Rabbit are riding a tough edge here, visiting complex topics concerning our covenants, agreements, and strategies for discerning overall compatibility in our village. Conflict is the buzzword these days, but we keep going. Sometimes I feel unsure of how to plug in to community politics. Eventually, I intend to become a member. Until then I hope to soak up wisdom, ideas, and integrate my own experiences of this world to better myself and how I participate in my future.
Now I am navigating a kitchen that relies on a wood stove for heating, and ideally cooking, plowing through the last of my co-op’s brassicas from early fall, and appreciating the successful batch of kimchi I made with the help of Ted and Aurelia.
Yeah, it gets messy here. Sometimes it just takes a little light from my friends-like-family to shine on the beauty in life’s imperfections.
Are you looking for a fresh perspective on life, along the lines of what Prairie described? Consider coming to our visitor program next year. We’d love to have you.