Rested. This morning, finally, after a week of detail and inspiration, and too much to think about, I am rested. And with rest comes revelation.... and acceptance.
Ready. I am ready. This morning I woke up knowing that the seeds that have been lying dormant under the fallow surface of my heart and mind are ready to break the surface. I am ready to work in the studio. I am ready to take up embroidery again, to do needlework of all sorts: needlepoint and embroidery, and to knit and sew and play with dye and paint and fibers.
Much practice is needed. My stitch quality is poor. But then I have stitched precious little in the last 30 years, and finished next to nothing. I am not surprised. Excellence requires tenacity and practice. What did surprise me at my recent foray into the world of embroidery and embroiderers is that my skills and my aptitude were greater than my expectations of them had been. I was by no means the slowest, by no means the worst stitcher, and I could see visible improvement in even a few short days.
One evening I said to my mother "I need to practice blanket stitch". My initial blanket stitches were crude and sloppy. I never liked blanket stitch anyway, but that is no excuse. I thought, much the same way I learned to like ribbing by knitting a sweater in a 2x2 rib, I would learn blanket stitch by making something heavy with blanket stitch. There would be no help but to get better.
The next morning we spent the morning making tiny butterflies. Tiny. The largest wing was the size of my pinkie fingernail, and my nails are cut short. Every butterfly wing had to be framed with blanket stitch, tiny blanket stitches, so they could be cut out and mounted on the final embroidery, two-sided three dimensional pieces. I needed a tight and consistent edge. The inside of the butterfly didn't matter as it would be covered with the orange stitching, which you can also see above.
In fact, in stitching that tiny butterfly, long and short stitch finally made sense as well, my hands got the feel of it, and although the butterfly wing is not finished, I am happy with the way these wings are turning out. This helped with projects begun earlier in this class, and it helped in my next class as well. I don't believe I realized, when I chose classes, how my choices would work on a continuum, leading me exactly where I want to be.
Inspired by my success with the butterfly wings, I returned to my Western Tanager, which we had worked on the day before. By adding another layer of stitching I was able to save him from the bin of despair, from certain death and replacement. He is far from perfect. I mashed him with my crude stitching, he is not as plump and rounded as he should be, and my stitches could use great improvement, but he is acceptable. He is a good first bird. I can save him with pride, and I will be happy to finish him. At the moment he is only a promise of a bird; I still need to add a tail and finish the wing, as well as add more head feathers, a beak and an eye, but the potential is there.
But I've done needlework before. I've intended to start embroidery for a while now. I've got needlepoint and knitting projects waiting in the wings. What is different now?
I'm not sure I can answer that aside from saying that I wasn't ready. It wasn't avoidance. I'll take exception to the Nike "just do it campaign" in this case. Sometimes we can't. I couldn't. For a long time, much as I knew I would someday start exploring my dream of working with thread and yarn and fabric, I couldn't do it. The long hours of alone time did not lead to creativity, but lead into dark places. I needed to be outside of myself for a while, and I have been. But now I see that over the past few months I have been finding my way to this place, the place I need to be to become a whole person, the whole person I was always meant to be.
Now I am ready. The EGA seminar proved to be a good kicking off point, but it is not the seminar that made me ready. I suspect much has conspired to get me at this point at this time in this place. Over the past few months I have been experiencing a shift in perception and perspective that has been leading me here. Just before embarking on this trip, in the week between Cursillo and this trip, I went through another long period in the void. It was not the same as other such periods. I was not depressed. I see now that it was simply a fallow period, while the soil of my creative impulses were resting, absorbing nutrients, and preparing themselves for the new seeds that would soon be sprouting.
I don't know where exactly this road is leading. I know I am not leaving my existing paths in the world, and the activities in the community that are necessary for that sense of connection and wholeness that complete us as humans. The inner world cannot flower without the outer world and perhaps I simply needed to break down those walls that kept them separate, break the dam and let the waters mingle, the way the waters of the Solimões and the Rio Negro mingle in the Amazon basin, a wall that eventually breaks into separate strands before the threads are absorbed and joined into one river.
(I do not know where my amazon photos are, or even that I haven't lost them. This photo is by MG Edwards, from this blog post.)