We said yes, whether through courage or through naïveté, to an impossible dream, and we built something far more beautiful and mysterious than we could have planned.
Just about 10 years ago, I was a new mom and had taken a leave from my teaching job. My family and I were feeling into our new life. I was both nesting and growing roots, and my spirit was seeking community.
With this intention growing, the answer to my wish arrived in the form of a 12-page manifesto. Some folks, friends of friends, or maybe acquaintances of acquaintances, had created a vision document for intentional community, and it found it’s way to Adrian and me.
It spoke of building a genuinely diverse community; of creating new economic structures; and of living in a way that honored the earth.
At the time, we were just a couple of years into owning our house, so we weren’t ready to sell everything and move, nor was there yet a place to move to. The vision at the time existed only on paper. But we were excited by the vision and decided to take the journey to see where it would lead.
Now 10 years later, and I will tell you that almost nothing come out “as we had planned.” There is no large intentional community living in our own garden of Eden. After spending some intense retreats together, after building relationships and purchasing a building for co-housing, we experienced a big conflict that divided many of the original founders and split some people away from the group. After that conflict, the energy that held us together re-organized and it took some time to heal. There’s even healing still to be done.
And yet, we did build something that has lasted through these years. It has sustained the people in it through the richest and most challenging times we can experience: birth and death, grief and mourning, relationships beginning and ending. It has been a community of joy, music, dancing, food, celebration, friendship, support, and love. We are indeed a welcoming and diverse community. We are also fluid: while there is a physical location around which the community orients, many of us do not live there. Instead, we are held by a larger bond.
I can only begin to describe what it has meant for me and my family to be part of this vision and, more importantly, part of this creation. We said yes, whether through courage or through naïveté, to an impossible dream, and we built something far more beautiful and mysterious than we could have planned.
After I became involved and started experiencing life in community, a refrain came into my thoughts: I can do anything. WE can do anything!
As I write this, we have just experienced a shocking presidential election. It will take some time for us to move through this shock, and many of us will need support. (Honestly, if I were a Trump supporter and Hillary had been elected, then I would feel the same way. I bow to that truth.)
For me, it feels as if a fire has torched many of the old structures. As we sit among the embers, I make this fierce offering:
- Focus on what you want to build. What is your vision? If you don’t know, then this is an excellent opportunity to discover what you want. You will know you’ve found it when your heart sings. What’s key here: say what you WANT, not what you don’t want. In this election, the country was largely divided into people who were either for Trump and anti-Trump. Very few people were connected with building an alternative vision. If your energy is focused on what you don’t what, how can you manifest what you do want? Your energy is precious. Focus it wisely.
- Tell someone. Share it with just a few people, or share it widely. Connect with people who resonate with the vision, and share a meal with them. If you create a space for sharing dreams and getting excited, you will leave your meeting full of life, energy and creativity. Plus, here’s the secret: the friendship and community that you build around a shared vision is, ultimately, the manifestation of the vision!
- Allow vulnerability. When you share something you care about, it’s scary. Notice the vulnerability as it arises. Acknowledge it. As you sit with it, it WILL transform into the inner support you need to act on your dreams.
- Recognize fear. Fear will arise. You know you’ve met fear when you start acting on your vision, but then you get a “no” that is making excuses for why you shouldn’t. That is fear. An authentic no is not fear based, an authentic no is grounded and doesn’t make excuses (sometimes we ignore our no’s and make excuses in order to say yes, but that’s a different post). “Feel the fear and do it anyway,” as the classic book says.
- Stay oriented. Your body, your felt sense, is truly a compass. When you find that a thought or fear has thrown you off, practice releasing those thoughts. (Byron Katie’s The Work is an excellent tool for this process) That bad feeling you’re having is telling you that you are facing the direction of your fears instead of your dreams. That bad, depressed feeling is the sign that you are thinking a thought that is untrue for you. Re-orient towards your vision. Your vision – your personal, authentic truth – is energizing and joy giving.
Finally, I leave you with this blessing, which came to me some days ago: