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Strings attached

I brought my latest project for my sassy friend to see. Her opinion carries weight because she is crafty like me. She loved the sweet birds and the fabric selection. She was full of praise and then she joked about all the strings. I don’t snip threads as I go. This must be the sewing equivalent of “clean as you go” in the kitchen. At the beginning and the end of each seam, you’re left with two long threads. Once I end the seam and lift the feed dogs, I sever the threads on the machines cutter and move to the next seam. I do not stop and snip the two or three inches of excess thread. EVER. So, my finished quilt top is……well….it has whiskers. Miss Sassy asks why I leave all these strings. She snips all of hers and another woman sitting close by nods her head and agrees that if she were a quilter, she’d trim off all these errant strings too… even on the side of the quilt no one will ever see because it’s inside the sandwich. I trim them once the quilt is totally complete, snipping only the threads that show. All those excess strands won’t harm the quilt, they don’t cause problems.

I am not lackadaisical nor am I compulsive, at least not obsessively. Sewing is a contemplative task. The monotony of it, like gardening or driving or exercise, allow the mind to flow through other things. If I obsess over trimming strings, I avoid the flow. And one of the great reasons to do contemplative tasks is to get out of your head…or at least to stop directing traffic….and just let thoughts and feelings flow.

And from those quiet times, I process through the psychological equivalent to clutter. But I do it passively. It arrive on its own volition. And this is the thread I have pulled on a tiny bit in the last few days:

Can other people trust you if you don’t trust yourself? Can they like you if you don’t like yourself? Can they see you if you can’t see yourself or refuse to see? Will they love you if you do not love yourself?

As a small child, I remember coming home after being tormented over in the sand lot at the park by some neighborhood kids: tormented, mocked and then excluded. Shunned. Rejected. I was furious and stomped home with my first grade equivalent of “Screw you!”. Once inside the house, my mom detected my anger and wanted to know what was wrong? What happened. The anger evaporates and what comes out is the pain and the tears. “Why don’t they like me? Why are they mean? They never want to play with me? What is wrong with me?”

The rapid flows started with anger for the little monsters and bullies but quickly end up attributing my playground rejections as a direct consequence of something I did…or am. It must be me.

Which comes first the chicken or the egg? Excluding divinity or magic, in the cycle of the human condition, which comes first? Do I believe in myself first and then others believe in me? Insert any word here: like, love, trust, depend…..Do I like myself first and then others will like me? Or is the opposite true? The acceptance of others allows me to accept myself. I honestly don’t know which comes first. What I do know is that at this stage in my life…..I better like myself and not depend on affirmation or validation from other people.

There was a comment thread on another writer’s blog. He had given advice about writing for yourself. One of the comments asked about writing to publish or be marketable. Essentially, what is fashionable or trendy at the moment? And while I am not a published writer,  I don’t think writing (or any art) should be done with the primary focus on the audience. Unless your intention is box office sales. But then…one might argue if that is truly art vs. entertainment. You write for yourself…because you have a story to tell, an idea to convey.You paint on canvas because an image blazes in your mind’s eye and you have to transfer it. Not so others can see it, but so that you can share. You live your life in a way that nurtures your heart and your soul and not in a chase for other people to pick you for their kick ball team. I want to like where I live. I want to find pleasure and satisfaction with where I lay my head to rest. I want to feel sheltered and nourished and safe. I want to feel free to laugh or cry. I want to feel confident to plan and it must be a place where I can rest and rejuvenate. And this is not a physical place. It is not a spa or a vacation get-away. This is within me….my voice, my heart, my head….my soul.

I didn’t bring my quilt for Sassy to see and validate. Her words of praise would not have changed my infatuation with the project. Her minute critique didn’t phase me because those extra strings don’t bother me and the quilt is for me. The fact that they might bother her didn’t set me about snipping and tidying my work. It also didn’t change how I sewed my next project. The same needs to apply to the rest of life. I like this. I like it this way. This is what I envisioned and I am thrilled with it. I would like you to share in my thrill. It might even hurt my feelings a bit if you rejected it. But……IT is for me. IT is what I wanted. And how other people feel and what they think isn’t primary. It’s COMMENTARY. And you can’t listen to the critics. Nor can you hang your existence on the fans. You do your thing, your way. And you hope that someone gets it. That someone laughs at your joke or dances to your song or is captivated by your beauty. But you don’t live seeking those things. You live for yourself and seek YOURSELF and have faith that there are people out there that appreciate it.

 

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