by Avi Maistri

As fall turns frigid here at Dancing Rabbit, I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase, “You reap what you sow.” Avi here. I’m a fall kind of guy. I like the slowing down; the coziness; and the harvesting of and reflecting on what was from the current year, while bringing into greater focus what we wish will be in the following year. 

Kyle’s rental property, the Gnome Dome, dressed for the cold in the first snow of the season.

I’ve never met a person who didn’t have a lot of wishes for what life could be like if only things were different. Myself included. 

A few months ago, I discovered that some of my neighbors here at DR have a pessimistic view of optimism and optimists. As a self-identifying optimist, it was confusing to me. I always thought optimism was something to aspire to. I didn’t take their dismissal personally. I share the concerns I heard about Polly Anna-ism and ungrounded magical thinking. That type of self-deception doesn’t make things better. I’ve found it generally seems to prolong a painful reconciliation with the facts of life. 

But grounded optimism? That’s the fuel the future runs on. One of my neighbors has a sign outside of their garden, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” We all want the experience of being gifted with a better tomorrow, but too often we don’t bother sowing the seeds of our dreams and visions today. Soil preparation is hard work, to say nothing of weeding and pest management. 

My wife and I just depleted our savings in the process of applying for her green card and hiring a lawyer to help us do so. We haven’t yet figured out how to replenish that savings within the context of life here at Dancing Rabbit, where we’ve essentially treaded water financially since moving here in April, though our quality of life took a steep upswing — go figure. 

We accomplished our mission for the year. We sowed seeds of changing continents and countries, living close to the land and other people, creating and participating in systems we feel proud and fulfilled to be a part of. It wouldn’t have happened without a grounded optimism that we could actually find a home to raise a family in, where we wouldn’t feel a need to shelter our children from the world they were born into. We want to believe we can feel joyful about bringing them into a world that fosters their freedom, creativity, and growth; a world that kindles the light of their souls. I think we found that place at Dancing Rabbit. 

It feels sad to me knowing that some amount of my neighbors don’t have that same feeling about our community. For them, it’s no longer a safe haven after the child sexual abuse scandal that rocked our community this year.

Of course, there’s no place we can go to escape the dark side of human nature. Wherever we go, there we are. To think otherwise would be foolish, naive optimism that misses the mark.

Life is a sexually transmitted disease with a 100 percent mortality rate. We were born to struggle to survive and then die. 

I need to be in touch with my anxiety and heed its wisdom. It tells me when I’m messing around and neglecting the hopeful seeds I’ve sown. It tells me when I’m being self-destructive. It shows me what’s actually important to me. 

Everyone wants a life full of what’s important to them, the aforementioned better tomorrow, myself included. No one wants to know when they’re not doing the things that are likely to bring that result about; easier to feel sorry for ourselves for living in the lackluster today. 

As I plan my garden for 2020, I have decisions to make. What will I sow? What’s worth tending to when the summer drought hits and the prairie weeds vigorously threaten to crowd everything out? Daring to answer that question is what it means to be optimistic. Knowing we’ll reap next fall what was sown in the spring is what it means to be a realist. 

Would you like to see Dancing Rabbit firsthand, and meet some of the interesting folks that live here? Swing by on Thursday evening between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. for a delicious handmade pizza and a cool glass of beer at our eco inn, the Milkweed Mercantile. Check Google Maps for the best directions from your location. We hope to see you there.