It took months to locate the materials for our wedding tapestry. During that period between the completion of the final design and the day that my specially ordered wool arrived, it never really occurred to me just how monumental a project this really is. The finished pattern is 239 stitches wide by 310 stitches long. That’s 74, 090 individual stitches, not including the finishing hem and tapestry loops, which I haven’t figured out yet. By my estimation, I’ve completed less than a quarter of that project so far, but I am enjoying every minute and every stitch.
I’m the sort of person who likes to take on large projects. As a kid, I always gravitated to the most complicated jigsaw puzzles with the largest number of pieces. I’ve single-handedly tackled two full house remodels. Well, three actually, but I abandoned the third project when I moved to Denver and married my husband last year. As I understand it, the couple who bought that house from me successfully completed the work I started and have since settled in comfortably.
During my corporate drone period, I was the person who inevitably ended up taking on the big, messy projects that everyone agreed were necessary, but no one wanted to own because the effort to accolade ratio wasn’t high enough. These were huge projects that took years to complete. I once developed a routine network maintenance program for a massive satellite communications network that covered the entire state of Alaska. While working for that same company, I later spent over two years rebuilding an entire database of thousands of circuit layout records that were lost due to a poorly planned migration from one database system to another. I suppose you can say I have a high tolerance for tedious work.
I remember a conversation I had once with a man I dated briefly in 2010. I was working on a different stitching project at the time, and he made sort of a snide remark about how much time I “wasted” stitching. I pointed out to him that the time I spent stitching was essentially the same amount of time that he spent sitting at a bar, drinking beer and talking about nothing in particular with whomever happened to sit on the stool next to him. At the end of the day, I was creating something lasting and concrete in my spare time while he was merely killing time and brain cells. To his credit, he acknowledged that I was right. He even curbed his drinking and started a fitness program for a while after that, but it wasn’t long before he returned to his comfort zone and we parted ways.
The point I suppose I’m trying to make is this: how you choose to spend your time is important. Are your chosen pastimes creative or destructive?
Do you have something positive and concrete to show for your efforts at the end of the day?
Are you spinning wool with which you can knit a sweater, or are you just spinning in drama by picking fights with your spouse or kids?
Are you cooking wholesome and healthy meals from fresh ingredients for your family, or are you mindlessly shoveling commercially processed junk food into your mouth while staring blankly at your TV?
How you choose to spend your time is important. I can’t stress that point enough.
I’ve always instinctively appreciated processes more than the outcomes. The moment I finish one large project, I find myself immediately seeking out the next one because it’s in the midst of the work—whatever sort of work it might be—where I find peace and contentment. Whether I’m stitching, making jewelry, or untangling a massive snarl of digital data records, I’ve noticed that I tend to settle into a steady, meditative rhythm as I work. And it’s there in that rhythm that I feel most connected to my source.
I believe that we’re all designed to be creative. The idea that some people are creative and others are not is utter nonsense. We’re all creative at our core. When creative energy isn’t allowed to flow naturally, however, it can easily turn destructive. And that destructive energy manifests in ways that beget more destruction. Substance abuse, violence, drama… these are all cycles of destructive energy that are completely unnecessary, and they can be eliminated merely by redirecting that energy into some sort of creative channel.
Life is short. Find a creative outlet for your spare time. Spin wool instead of drama. Sculpt clay instead of shaping political discourse. Carve wood instead of driving wedges between yourself and your loved ones. Take up competitive archery instead of shooting barbed insults at those with whom you don’t agree.
There’s an infinite well of peace and joy to be found in the creative process. It’ll change your life. I guarantee it.