"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
My grandmother is creativity embodied in human form. She can make anything and most certainly has from ornate Christmas decorations to the softest baby blanket. The woman is pushing 90 and she could positively will the most magnificent quilt together with nothing but a spool of thread and some scraps of discarded fabric. For the last few years, I have been telling her that I want to learn how to knit and crochet….and for the last few years she has been offering to teach me.
After much creative procrastination, I decided that week one of my creative soul project should tackle this obstacle once and for all! So I called Grammy, invited her for dinner (my payment fee for her sage tutelage), and overzealously stocked up on some fancy yarn. I figured that I might make a fashionable scarf or a blanket for some unborn kin but I never imagined I would come out of the experience with such a wealth of unexpected knowledge.
Beyond the pattern of stitches required to navigate from row to row, I was able to scratch the surface of my very stoic eastern European grandmother who never reveals her hand. In the beginning, I was all thumbs, fumbling desperately and not really succeeding at making the perfect loops but my grandmother zipped through with the speed and dexterity of a pup.
We come from vastly different time periods, believe in conflicting ideologies and yet, we spoke the same language of creativity as we crocheted in my living room. The outside world changes, forces us to identify with false perceptions of reality, and creates unnecessary obstacles preventing us from forming solid human connections. For those few hours, it could have been 1890 or 1980 and it would not have made a difference. While I am proud to finally have learned how to crochet…I am more satisfied that I walked away with a new appreciation for the matriarch of my family, was able to communicate in the universal language of creativity, and peel away at the earthly illusion that our differences keep us separate.
Week one of 2012 has reminded me that there is always something deeper for us to learn – even when we harbor preconceived notions about what it is we ought to have grasped – deeper lessons are eternally hidden in every surface fold. Look around you and give thanks for the routine of every single day and uncover the mysteries in the midst. Wrap around, loop, pull through….repeat.