Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Zen of Stitching

As I mentioned in my last posting, I was reading an article in O AT HOME called "Suffering from Decorating Anxiety? Stop Fussing and Start Enjoying" by Martha Beck. With apologies to Ms. Beck, I substituted the word "decorating" with the word "stitching" and the word "home" with the word "project" and came up with an interesting alternative version to her article. Here's another section of the article that also seemed appropriate to stitchers everywhere, called LEARN TO NOT-DO:

"As she stitched and restitched her project, Angela clung to the thought that her busyness was a virtue: She was "getting things done." This is considered so commendable in our society that not getting things done is often seen as weakness or laziness. But there is, as the Good Book says, "a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away." The skill of losing, of casting off objects and actions, of releasing all inclination to fix, is something most of us not only ignore, but actively avoid. Yet this is the very skill we need to maintain peacefulness in our projects.

Accorting to Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, "When nothing is done, nothing is left undone." This might sound like nonsense or insanity to someone who is caught up in the carousel of compulsive action. But not-doing is a necessary step toward pure being -- it's the resting state that fills a person or project with peace and tranquility.

To learn the skill of not-doing, contemplate the part of your project that's furthest from your end-game vision. Think of all the things that aren't satisfactory, that aren't finished. Then remember that finished can be a synonym for dead. Relax and enjoy the unfinishedness of that least satisfying project. Do nothing to move it toward completion until you can feel, as one Zen master put it, "without anxiety over imperfection." This might take minutes or it might take months. Just let your project be until you feel totally at ease with its flaws. When you finally stitch the project, do it as an outlet for your creativity and as an adventure in change, and don't fixate on "finishing." What you do to your project is far less important than your state of being while you're doing it."

Wow. More profound words of wisdom for all us stitchers.... So, that being said, (after we all stop laughing) let's take a deep breath, sit still awhile and contemplate our unfinished stitching projects.

[P.S.: I don't want to disturb the zen mood but did any of you happen to notice the wallpaper pattern in the above illustration? It'd make a good blackwork design, don't you think? ...okay, enough said... back to comtemplating my stitchery...]


tintocktap said...

Great post and something to bear in mind while obsessively stitching something that just isn't speaking to me! LOL!

Anyway, I've given you an award on my blog - pop over and have a look!

Carolyn McNeil said...

I don't have the patience for Zen...
An encyclopedia of needlepoint stitches…