Here’s a post by Rachel Katz, one of the co-founders of the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.
I know I can be critical. A bit of a complainer. Though I’m one of the founder of Dancing Rabbit, I’ve always thought of myself as the one with the realistic perspective, though others have been known to call it pessimistic.
These days I spend a lot of time traveling, for my work, to visit loved ones, and to indulge in the opportunities the city has to offer. As I visit my comfortably situated family and professional friends, I’m struck with a deep envy: trips to Thailand; iPhones and other shiny gadgets; inside temperatures that are always comfortable; fine art, theater and dance any night of the week; fresh fruit any time of year; jobs that are prestigious, easy to explain and pay well; fancy insurance plans with ample medical care; avocados. Anything, really, that they want is just a short drive, walk or mouse click away. It’s intoxicating.
But. BUT. I continue to live most of my time at Dancing Rabbit. And often, I’m happy with that choice. Let me tell you why.
- I wake up nearly every morning and decide for myself what I’m going to do with my day. Sure, sometimes it’s my turn to cook or I’m teaching biology to the home school cooperative, but by and large my time is mine. If I decide the snow is perfect for skiing, I just strap on my skis and go. If I’m feeling ill, I can lie in bed with a cup of tea and a good book. The flexibility in my life allows me to travel for weeks or months at a time.
- Things that are spendy luxuries in the big city cost nothing or next to nothing. Morel mushrooms just grow in the woods, waiting to be harvested. I get private hula lessons from a Native Hawaiian, just like I used to receive private voice lessons. I am entertained many an evening by parties, live music, dances, movies and social gatherings of all kinds. Neighbors call asking us to pick their excess no-spray pears. When I go the city. I am overwhelmed by sticker shock on everything.
- I spend as much time as I want with my partner, Tony, and friends. I’m not trying to squeeze some quality time in between work, cooking dinner and whatever evening responsibility I have. Tony and I eat three meals together most days and everyone knows not to disturb us before noon on Saturday. We are truly living a life together.
- I cook lunch and dinner once a week and then the rest of the week other people cook delicious, fresh, organic, vegan meals for me twice a day. Then I get to site down with friends and enjoy one of the oldest human traditions – the social meal – only modernized with frequent references to Wikipedia to settle a debate or answer a question.
- I live in a veritable health spa. The air and water are clean. The meals are prepared with organically grown, whole foods. I exercise regularly, whether it’s utilitarian like cutting wood or bicycling for transportation, or it’s purely for enjoyment like dancing or snow shoeing. And it keeps me in great physical shape. There’s even a masseuse on site when the need arises.
- When the shit hits the fan, I know people will be there. I don’t realize it day by day, but these disparate people brought together by an idealistic vision become family. Even for the people you don’t like to spend time with, you step up when they’re in trouble, just like you would for a sibling you don’t get along with. When I sprained my ankle so badly that I couldn’t walk for months, many people took me hither and yon on piggy back. A crew came together to cut my wood for winter. And when it was time for our annual land walk at our Land Day Celebration, a team of people offered to push me around in a wheelbarrow filled with pillows. Now that’s friendship.
- The natural world is intertwined with my life. I don’t need to take a backpacking trip. I watch Prairie Kingsnakes swallow their prey live on the path. I know the phase of the moon because I walk in the dark at night between the buildings and enjoy incredible views of the Milky Way. I watch the birds raise their young and wave my hand over their nests to watch the nestlings’ wide open mouths bob on their tiny necks. The length of the day is important to me as I adjust my electricity use accordingly. I measure the progress of the tadpoles’ attempts to grow legs when I go for a swim. And I know the first true day of spring has arrived when I hear the Red-Winged Blackbird proclaim, “It’s my tree!”
- But perhaps most importantly, I get to live a life of integrity. I know that I’m doing my best to respond to the crises of our time in all aspects of life. My life at Dancing Rabbit consumes a small fraction of what the average person in the US does. My simple lifestyle requires little money, which allows me to both work part-time for a small nonprofit trying to create a more peaceful world, and avoid war taxes by making below a taxable income. I have the social support to make, at times, uncomfortable personal choices, whether it’s to eat a vegan diet, make ethical purchase decisions or be politically active.
It’s a good life I live, ticks, temperature extremes, isolation and all. You might even say its is The Good Life.
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Image credit: Dancing Rabbit