An unexamined life, they say, isn’t worth living.
Well, about that…
I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t think about life, and stuff. Maybe because I read? I dunno. Maybe I read because I wanted to understand. I wanted to think things through, and it helped me do that when I discovered how other people think things through. And really, a book (or other forms of story-telling, including songs), are really just how other people have thought things through.
What can I say? I was curious. About everything. I wanted to know. I wanted to understand. And I especially wanted to understand my role in this world. My life. Did it have meaning? Well, maybe. Maybe not.
I wanted to understand other people. What they did was always driven by why they wanted to do it. What was that wanting? That desire?
To be perfectly honest after 70 plus years of living and asking myself these questions, not just of others, but of myself, I have no answers. Zero. Zip. Nada.
But I think it helps to stop and think before we act. Think ahead to consequences. Think about how our own actions will impact others.
Because we are not on this planet all by ourselves. What we do, the decisions we make, the actions we initiate? They will all, in one way or another, affect another person. They can affect our environment. On a micro level, our actions may only affect ourselves. We think. But there are realities beyond our own that will also be impacted.
So I find myself, from time to time, thinking. I may have a very vague notion of what I want to know and my thoughts meander here, there, everywhere. As I think, I gather more information. I accept some ideas, reject others. I gather more information. Change my mind. Adjust what I am planning on doing. Examine the consequences of those decisions. Gather more information. Change my mind. And continue my meaning in the corners and corridors of my own mind. Long before I grab a paper and pencil, I may have already considered 10, 20, more, options until I have selected the ones that *might* give me a result I can be happy with.
Am I talking about life here, or weaving?
Because my approach to weaving, creating a textile, is the exact same process I have used on my life choices since as far back as I can remember.
And believe me, I remember as a young child making some really awful choices. And I remember the consequences of those choices and how badly I felt after being caught out.
Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.
We make mistakes. It’s part of the growing process. It is part of becoming an adult. It is part of living. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Acknowledge them. Apologize to any who have been negatively impacted by them. But an apology isn’t enough. What can you do to repair the damage you have done?
The only difference between life and weaving is that you have not harmed another person with your mistake. You have simply not gotten the result you want. You can begin again. You can learn from your mistake and do it over again, this time with more knowledge. And hopefully come closer to your desired results.
Personally I have been going through some difficult decision making. The trip to Olds was in part an opportunity to see if it was feasible for me to continue to make the 11+ hour journey to Olds to continue to teach the program.
But I’m not in my 30s now. I am hitting 72 in 3 weeks (approximately). I came to weaving with physical injuries, and by careful monitoring of my physical effort I managed to keep my body weaving for 40+ years.
In point of fact it isn’t the weaving that I cannot do (although at a much reduced rate) but the other things associated with teaching.
In 2019 I made the very difficult decision to stop traveling long distances to teach, other than the Olds program.
This year has shown me that I must now let that go as well. It is time for me to accept that the effort involved in collecting the equipment, teaching samples, etc., getting it all loaded up into the van, then driving approximately 500+ miles, standing up in front of a class for 5 days dumping information into brains like water from a firehose, then packing up and driving that 500+ miles home again…is no longer possible – IF I AM GOING TO BE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO TEACH IN OTHER WAYS.
The stress of dealing with the possibility of catching covid on the journey or while away from home was, quite frankly, huge. We stopped only for gas/pee breaks, Doug grabbed food from fast food places and we ate in the car. We did not eat in the dining hall or any of the local restaurants. I brought a HEPA filter for the classroom and fortunately we had a room with a window we could open for ventilation.
And every single person in my class wore a mask to help protect me (and each other) just in case. Very very few others wore masks and I hope to hell no one caught covid on campus or in the community or their journey there and home again.
But that’s the thing. You can’t see a virus and you just don’t know. And it isn’t over yet, nor will it be if people do not stop the spread of the virus. We will continue to ride this deadly roller coaster as other viruses crop up and also spread.
My body told me loud and clear on day 4 that it could not, would not, do this again. Not without making me pay for it.
So I am throwing my future efforts to teach behind/with the School of Sweet Georgia. They have booked me for lectures (every second month – about two hours of information overload), plus they have asked me to create two more classes for them. Now that I am home, the decks will be cleared and I will begin working on those. I have 3 months to get them done, and work with their team to make the creation of them happen in a 3(?) day window where once again I will be facing a very long drive (9 hours) in order to get there.
I am fortunate in that Doug is willing to do the driving and the heavy lifting. But I have to accept that I am not immortal, and my body is broken and worn out after years of working hard plus injuries. And the time comes to everyone to accept, adapt and adjust.
When my mother was told that her end date was nigh, she looked at me and the doctor and said – I’ve had 90 years, 85 of them were good. I was more than a little astonished that she could look back on her life, with all the troubles and travails that she lived through and come to the conclusion that she had had A Good Life. As I turn 72 next month, I can say that I have woven a life through weaving and it has mostly been good. While I have some regrets, wish I had done some things differently, I think that the good outweighs the negative by a large measure. And by taking steps now to accommodate my injured and worn out body, I will be able to continue to weave, to teach, to think.
And that sounds pretty good to me right now, despite the sorrow I feel in what I have to let go.
Stay tuned for what comes next if you want to ride shotgun with me as I try to figure stuff out!