I've been thinking again about the rock-polisher effect in cohousing, and how our lives can be changed by something totally ordinary.
A few weeks ago our three-year-old hot water tank fractured, flooding our recycle room and leaving us with only one tank for the entire building.
So the word went out that we should use hot water sparingly until it was replaced, which, since it was custom-made and had to be re-built, took several weeks.
This caused me a certain amount of anxiety. I am a big fan of hot water - long, hot showers, bedding washed on the longest cycle, dishwasher on power scrub - yes!!
Sparingly and hot water were not words I would use together. But, I experimented. I rinsed the dishes in cold water, then put them through the dishwasher's quick cycle. They were fine.
I did the same for the laundry - my clothes and bedding came out of washing-machine clean as clean, and it took me a lot less time, as did shorter showers. This was good.
And when we had our new hot water tank at last, I didn't go back to my old ways. This made me realize how many new lifestyle habits I have acquired since I moved here.
I don't just read my daily newspaper and then throw it into the recycle bin. I deliver it to David, who, after he reads it, passes it on to Ron, who then gives it to Bill.
If I have left-overs, I give them to somebody else. I lend my car out to anyone who needs it. I'm willing to try unfamiliar foods at our potlucks - nettle soup, gluten-free bread.
I don't buy as many clothes, and I give more to thrift shops or put them in our freecycle cupboard. I feel comfortable not wearing makeup, and what makeup I do wear is organic.
I don't buy as much stuff. I considered getting a new car (my little Echo is 10 years old this summer) but didn't. I've kept my old printer and computer - ditto with my seldom-used cellphone.
So how did this all happen? It wasn't because someone gave me a lecture, or passed a bylaw. It was all slow and incremental, little changes made by following the example of other people here.
And that's how the rock-polisher effect works, living in this Pacific Gardens river where we all tumble up against each other and smooth out our rough edges.