A group of friends playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee.

The Work of Self-Care: A Dancing Rabbit Update

There are plenty of unique elements of our daily lives here at Dancing Rabbit that are probably fairly well-known to readers of this column — natural building, the humanure system, the car co-op. These are all very important pieces of what makes life here both more sustainable and just plain great; but there is another slightly less obvious piece that makes living here healthier and more sustainable, and that is play.

Christina here, writing about throwing plastic objects into the air and how maybe that helps me to have more of a positive impact on the world.

I have been playing Ultimate Frisbee since I first came to visit Dancing Rabbit (five years ago this summer!). While there is some running, throwing, and catching involved with the game, and there are some strategies that I am still just beginning to grasp, for me, the game is more about spending time with friends, being in my body, and sweating out my troubles.

Every time a game is scheduled, I look for excuses as to why I can’t play (“it’s so hot out!,” “I have a lot of work to catch up on!,” “I just don’t have time!”). But every time that I do manage to lace on my bright red cleats and get myself on the field, I feel better for the rest of the day. 

There is also something gratifying about truly being part of a group. Accepting people who don’t know how to play or don’t have the skills to really help their team win has been a long-standing tradition of Ultimate games here. And it’s not just a token statement — really, anyone is welcome, and when you are the sixth person to arrive (and thus make the minimum requirement for a game) if you might even be received on the field with a cheer.

While Ultimate is a regular occurrence, this week was an especially eventful one for those of us who enjoy playing outside and throwing things back and forth. We played outdoor games like badminton and frisbee on Sunday night to celebrate Nathan completing a significant decade. Apple’s birthday was celebrated with an epic Triathlon called a “Tri-Try” which consisted of biking from Sandhill Farm to her house at Red Earth Farm, our two neigboring communities, then running or walking to the Dancing Rabbit Pond, and then swimming across the pond. Participants were greeted at the end with cheering, led by Katherine, and a giant “Finish” sign. The Thursday night after-dinner game of Ultimate was well attended (even by those of us who had eaten too much for dinner). And the Saturday morning game was a good one as well.

All of this playing has helped me to get out of my head, move my body, spend time with others, and be in the moment for a bit.

Of course, I also can’t help but notice the irony that I have spent all this time playing over the past week, when there is so much pain and struggle in the world. Seeing people out in the streets demanding change is heartening; it seems like things might actually be shifting. Dismantling systemic racism is obviously a monumental task, but it seems like maybe some progress is being made, and then when I see that work happening, I also tend to feel guilty that I am not doing enough. 

In my previous life, I was a classroom teacher. I have to admit that I don’t miss a lot of that life — this time of year I would have been slogging through literally hundreds of pages of grading. As challenging and exhausting as that job was, though, I felt like I had a direct impact.

Moving to rural Missouri meant a lot of great changes for the better for me, and I don’t plan on giving up this life anytime soon; but it also has meant that in some ways I have retreated. I’m trying to make an impact where I can and I have faith that our project out here in northeast Missouri matters. 

My work lately has consisted more of things like buying more books by Black authors, supporting friends going through tough times, engaging in conversations about how to be more proactive with conflict, and working on supporting our village governance by helping the process of selecting the next Village Council members. I also continue with the work of growing as much of our food as I can and helping out in the dairy co-op. I know that I couldn’t do this work if it weren’t for the fun throughout the week that gives me more energy.

Maybe some of my work lately has consisted in continuing to show up for Ultimate games when I don’t want to and when I know that I will probably be the slowest one on the field. Maybe these actions are making the world a better place too.

Although it also consists of spending time with friends and neighbors, it is also work, and I know that I wouldn’t be as effective in that work or have as much energy for it if it weren’t for all of the time that I spent playing during the week.

This week we welcomed new residents Paula, Robey, and Sara. It was a somewhat subdued welcome, of course, with many of our regular events still on hold due to COVID 19.

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