The tasks in my life at this moment are multiple, disparate and immediate.
“Now! Now!! Me first!!!” they all clamor.
Last night I stepped over piles of designs, bills to pay, piles of beautiful dyed cloth begging to be sewn into art, scraps of art work waiting to be sandwiched into art blankets, sheets to be folded, Christmas lights to be fixed, dried holly leaves that have drifted from the fireplace mantel to rest, like little natural sculptures, in odd corners between my father’s butternut abstracts in order to reach my pile of newly washed quilts.
On top of the pile rested a twenty year old duvet interior. We all have these blankets, the ones that have taken on the imprint of years—the clean laundry smell, soft washed cotton and weight of every blanket laid on countless beds over the years, restless nights, and deep sleep… the energy of years embedded into the fibers. When I picked it up to fold it, I found a six-inch tear in the cotton that encased the filling, right at the seam.
Now this is an old thing, it has come from house to house with us over the years, and at this moment I am in the midst of a concerted effort to shed all items that have no direct function in my quality of life.
I certainly have plenty of blankets—as a textile artist I not only create blankets but I also repurpose them into other things. I pick up good wool ones whenever I can find them. This tear represented a crossroads for this quilt. It could be “grounds for dismissal” … I have so little time as it is, I did not need to add another task. But at the same time, then there is the conundrum of disposal. Is it recycled? Burned? Cut into rags? All of those take work and energy. And there was inlaid memory, tactile and cerebral, baked into it over the years. Do I just pick that up and discard it, now, at this point in my life?
In my studio practice I have consciously incorporated sustainable practices for many yearsThus. Do I not need to practice what I preach? But I did not need to add to the pile!! No, it had to be dealt with now.
Thus I sat before the fire with it. And a strange thing happened over the forty-five minutes it took me to find a needle, thread, scissors, stitch the rip, put away the tools, and fold it up, finished. Each stitch, every moment that the needle disappeared and reappeared, sometimes bringing a knot with it, sometimes not, brought me deeper into that part of my mind that , constantly bubbling and churning, forges ideas and plans.
At the end of that time, I was calm, and I had several thoughts of what the next things I needed to do were, and the order to do them in. I was glad that I was forced (forced myself?) to take the time.
Sometimes in my work I need to sit and be.
Christmas will still be here on the 25, the solstice will still be here tomorrow, New Years will still be here on the 31, and 2023 will come.
But I, in my creative corner of peace, have done several more small tasks that make my world and thus that of others around me, a little brighter.