Cultivating skill in quiltmaking is often for the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake. I generally try to learn new things so I can improve my quiltmaking, make better quilts and express my ideas more truly to the picture in my mind.
I am glad that today’s word is not something awful like disaster funeral or death. Another post will fill you in on why.
Each entry starts with a little poem. Today’s poem clearly defines the word of the day:
“Let us not follow vulgar leaders
Who exploit the fear of death,
And promise the bliss of salvation.
If we are truly happy,
They will have nothing to offer.”
This applies to many things in our lives: work, politics, etc.
“If we attain freedom from the fear of death, a sound way of health, and a path of understanding through life, there is happiness and no need for false leaders.”
I think this poem and saying applies to the Quilt Police type of attitude surrounding our quilt work. Some people demand perfection by following their rules. We can turn away from this kind of attitude by having knowledge about different techniques, by educating ourselves. If we know “the rules,” we can reject them and not have a quilt that falls apart. Happiness comes, in one respect, from education. We don’t need “vulgar” leaders if we are happy.
“Action must be guided by both intellect and experience.”
“Only when wisdom, courage, timing, and perseverance are combined can one have a sound basis for initiative.”
I don’t think it takes initiative to start a project, but it does take initiative to finish a project.
My first thought when I saw this word was of color. We have a multitude of colored fabrics we can use in our quilts to evoke feelings, record memories or just play with.
Today’s word is all about quilt guilds and quilt groups. Today’s word is all about leadership, teamwork and support, which are the hallmarks of quilt guilds and quilt groups everywhere.
“True leadership is a combination of initiative and humility. The best leader remains obscure, leading but drawing no personal attention…Credit is not to be taken, it will be awarded when people realize that it was the subtle influence of the leader that brought them success.”
Hard to imagine in this day and age, but a worthy goal.
“The sacred lies in the ordinary.”
“But once you know it, it is yours and part of your daily life.”
Once I acknowledge all the things around me as having special qualities, then I see more of them.
”But true absorption is a total involvement in the evolution of life without hesitation or contradiction.”
I think the book isn’t detailing what it is trying to convey with this word very well. In quiltmaking, I get to a point where I am so absorbed in a project that I reach a different area of my mind. This experience is creating at its best!
“We must give [situations in our lives] rough shape and then throw them down into the center of our lives…As we shape the situation, we must be aware of what form we want things to take. The closer something comes to completion, the harder and more definite it becomes. Our options become fewer, until the full impact of our creation is all that there is.”
When I start a quilt, the possibilities are endless. I start shaping the finished product with an idea in my head. Each decision I make limits future options until I have a completed idea. This is not a bad thing, it is the process of a project. Working through the process allows the final piece to take shape.
“No matter how extreme a situation is, it will change.”
“Natural events balance themselves out by seeking heir opposites and this process of balance is at the heart of all healing…”
All life is continual destruction and healing, over and over again.”
“…healing will follow upheaval.”
Yesterday’s word, disaster, was all about change in my mind. Today’s word, healing, makes me think of change also and how people change after being sick. Sometimes they die, and sometimes they change their lives completely; they exercise, they eat organic food, think positively, don’t drink, etc.
In the sense of quiltmaking, we can start a project and ruin it in some way, either intentionally (it wasn’t working out, so we slice and dice it) or unintentionally (knock over the paint on to the project). This means that the project has taken an unexpected and unplanned for turn. A project won’t ‘heal’ itself. You have to facilitate that ‘healing’ by fixing it. Fixing it can mean incorporating the new reality into a new design or it can mean abandoning the project and starting something new.
Even an abandoned piece may get a new life down the road as a back or a stuffed toy or the answer to a disaster with another project.
That was my first thought, anyway, especially after yesterday’s word!
“Disaster strikes at its own time. It is so overwhelming that we can nothing other than accept it.”
Personally, I think this is the most important thing, other than disaster is actually about change. It instigates or inspires or incites change, change we have to accept.
“Disaster is natural. It is not the curse of the gods, it is not punishment. Disaster results from the interplay of forces…”
“Disasters may well change us deeply, but hey will pass. We must keep to our deeper convictions and remember our goals. Whether we remain ash or become the phoenix is up to us.”
The book talks about an old man who planted an orchard after he retired from his job. He was undaunted even though the people around him said he wouldn’t live long enough to see it bear fruit.
I think that starting projects that are daunting is the epitomy of optimism and it shows optimism and joy in the process and not just in the end product.
In my opinion, there are two kinds of work: work where you make money and your life’s work. Some people are fortunate enough to have both in one. For me, the work I do for money is interesting (mostly) and challenging (often), but my life’s work is creativity. At the moment I create quilts and tote bags, occasionally ornaments or other little things. In the past I have made leaded glass windows, painted, knitted, crocheted, done mixed media collages and sculpted. Creativity is my life. It feeds my soul and comforts my psyche.
The book talks, today, about a woodcutter needing to cut wood regardless of the weather, but that planning ahead can make the work easier. The book calls this working in “concert with the seasons” or “according to seasonal circumstances.”
This means that you do some of the heavy work when there is no snow and leave the chopping of kindling for snowy days. It means planning ahead and planning your work.
By “concert with the seasons,”a person is conserving effort. The woodcutter can conserve effort, not only by working in “concert with the seasons,” but also by cutting with the grain, chopping with the right force, etc.
I do this in quiltmaking all the time. I may cut all the pieces of a block before sitting down at the machine to sew. This allows me to see what the block will look like. It helps me conserve effort, as well, because I can sit and sew the whole block without having to jump up and cut another piece each time I sew two together. I prepare the pieces of my Cross (Flowering Snowball) blocks in advance so I can sit and sew in peace when I have a few moments. This kind of planning ahead makes sense. “Whether it is the time or the method, the labor is half initiative and half knowing how to let things proceed on their own.”
bearing their fortune*
“We may have great fortune or bad, but we should patiently bear both.” Trees bear what comes: the weather, development, etc. We may receive criticism on our work – fair and unfair, correct and incorrect, astute and not. We must bear it, but not let it change us. It should inform us, but not change us. “No matter what, we must always be true to our inner selves” and the direction we want our work to take.
I think it is important for me to consider that I don’t have to only bear things that happen to me; that I can also direct new things to happen. I think what the book is saying is that things happen and we have to take them (absorb them??) and that we shouldn’t fret and worry and rend our garments as a result. We should learn from them, too.
*I may, on certain days, post words related to the word of the day, or even only brief thoughts. Some words are harder than others!