Thursday, July 26, 2012

You're the Inspiration

I was delighted by the bounty of today's mail: a package and two fat letters, all from girlfriends who live states away. But the most exciting one was from a friend I've not seen since my son was an infant. We've touched base off and on through the years via email, but real letters means something, just like a phone call or an actual face-to-face visit. And I was delighted to get one of the three from her. It was multiple pages, catching me up on 6+ years of life, which has taken her from South Carolina to Georgia to Virginia, wow! I was impressed and cruising happily along through her letter when I came to the line, "You are an inspiration to me all the time, how you are able to accomplish so much being a single mom and an artist."

This letter comes on the heels of multiple emails loaded with praise of an art-writing collaborative show I participated in and attended a reception for on Friday night. And in the middle of introducing one friend to another at a poetry reading Sunday, the friend I've known longer referred to me (to the other friend who has not had the pleasure of knowing me quite as long) as a 'catalyst'. He'd mentioned to her that I talked him into participating in an event. She basically warned him to get used to that. "She's a catalyst," she said. I know it was a compliment, but it comes on the heels of the most unproductive summer I've ever spent since I began teaching 8 years ago. I smiled, then left, thinking, "I need to get something accomplished before summer ends."

But my interests have shifted, I've been exploring new art mediums and creative philosophies and ideas about writing, living, parenting, not to mention basically making over my home, my vehicle, my clothes, and myself. And still somehow it doesn't feel I'm doing enough. I've always battled this predicament. I once had a mantra on my mirror that said, basically, "While you're goofing off, someone else is working hard, and they'll get the prize." But what prize is that, really?

In my den there is a basket full of yarn that almost matches the ridiculously gigantic bowl of yarn on the desk in my bedroom. I love the look of them both, they inspire me with their colors and textures. I have a million ideas in my head for how I'll use the skiens. Books of patterns (which I can oddly follow the logistics of despite not being able to balance my checkbook without breaking into a cold sweat) are my favorite reading material these days. One of the blessings of having a brain that can derail with the slightest provocation is the ability to bounce between projects, ideas, drama, peace, moments I'm in and the moments I'd like to be in. One of the blessings of knitting is that it is a moving meditation, which is good for me because it's the only meditation I'm able to do for more that 37 seconds at a time. I can knit for hours, but I'm always amazed when I actually finish a project. Somehow I never see that far into the future when I'm casting on. I don't see the finished project in my head, I only see the steps of the pattern, the stage I'm in, the colors and textures and how it's coming together. Knitting, I'm in the moment, because I can't be anywhere else. When I'm too busy to sit and knit, I'm passing by my baskets full of yarn, thinking of what I'll begin next, of what I can yarn bomb and winter sweaters and scarves and hats and what on earth can be knit for young boys obsessed with style. I'm even thinking of asking a friend who is handly with tools if he'll build me a loom so I can finally indulge my dreams of weaving, which I've been slow to explore due to lack of, well...a loom.

My mind is always working, and as a result, usually I'm always doing.

Only this summer...not so much. This has been my summer of dreaming.

If I'm an inspiration, a catalyst, some one others might actually look up to, then I need to get busy doing, well, something that could merit such high praise. But all I want to do, really, is touch these natural fibers, work them together, blend them to make something beautiful. I want to touch them with the same reverence I have when touching the earth, with a mixture of love and wonder akin to what I feel for seeds and the way they hold life, unaware. Like alchemists of old, I want to take the simplest of materials and use them to create something that, without me, would never have been.

Which is what a dream is, really...something that, no matter how simple or profound,without us, will never be. Like seeds, we hold life unaware.

Knit one, purl two, knit one, purl two, yarn over, knit one...I'm lost in the moment, everything else falling slowly away. Hurt feelings, they pass with each stitch.

For a second my mind wanders, but I shake my head and bring my thoughts back to my needles.

This has been my summer of dreaming.