January 22, 2008

What Is and What Should (Never) Be

" ' Ah my friend, what have you brought me? You know a traveler should not arrive empty-handed at the door of a friend like me. That's going to the grinding stone without your wheat.
The guest began, "You can't imagine how I've looked for something for you. Nothing seemed appropriate. You don't take gold down into a goldmine, or a drop of water to the Sea of Oman! Everything I thought of was like bringing cumin see to Kirmanshah where cumin comes from.
... I've brought you a mirror. Look at yourself, and remember me."
... What is the mirror of being? Non-being. Always bring a mirror of non-existence as a gift. Any other present is foolish.
... An empty mirror and your worst destructive habits, when they are held up to each other, that's when the real making begins. That's what art and crafting are."

The Essential Rumi, translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, publ. HarperSanFrancisco, pg. 141.

Rumi was talking about the renovation of the soul, but here we are mainly concerned with fabric and quilting.
This is the essence of all creation/renovation: the gap between what is and what we picture in our minds; between what is and what should be, or what we think should be; the gap between the status quo and the best.
For quilters and artists creation lies between the fabric, thread, beads, ribbons, and what we envision and/or feel it could become. It is the privation of something that drives us to create. Every quilter I've known or read is always seeking to try something new or to improve on something - make their stitches smaller, make their machine quilting more fluid, get their points to match up. It's never ending.
It is also the pleasure and fun we get from that process and end product that keeps us returning to the sewing machine in spite of it sometimes being frustrating, of it pointing out some of our faults. Impatience is one of mine. I want something to be finished NOW, not tomorrow or next month. I have to learn to relax and let the process unfold - everything takes time, and I have experienced the fact that rushing tends to lead to mistakes and more frustration. That doesn't always mean that I don't rush, however.
Here's a challenge: look into that mirror and see one of your quilting faults and for this month, work on changing it every time you sit down to quilt.
Let me know how it works out.

I've rebegun the process of being more environmentally friendly. Years ago I was moreso than I am these days, and that bothers me - another gap between what is (living as I do, using the products I do) and what should be (living more eco-sensitively, using environmentally beneficial products or non-harming products). Of course the inevitable has happened: I've begun looking into the environmental impact of the manufacturing of our most beloved cotton. The news is not good. I'll update you as I learn more.

Keep your foot on the dogs.


Debra Spincic said...

This is an interesting post. I am in the process of learning a new machine and technique so I can certainly understand from where you come with this idea.

Jacquie said...

I have that same impatience gene. Sometimes it can mean wild productivity, other times a real train wreck. I like the idea on focusing on something to work on over the next month. I have so many things I can improve on...have to think on this a bit. I'll let you know. Thanks for the thoughtful post!