The Frankensocks are finished, yarn mostly gone, and not a pair in the batch. Sock #4, at top right, doesn't even match itself: the leg is completely different than the foot and there was a sudden change of grist. Hmm.
If I had planned to do 400 metres of no colour repeat yarn, I couldn't have done it, but I did it with this yarn.
What does this have to do with meditation? Well, there was a time, not so long ago, when an experience like this would leave me wild with frustration. I'm an experienced spinner and knitter. I know how to knit socks and match them up. Certainly I can and have spun sock yarn which, when worked, provides me with something resembling a pair. How dare this happen to me? All that time wasted! All that effort gone!
The horror. My ego would be bruised, my stress level elevated, my mood running to anger. And for what? Socks that, despite the colour mismatch, are warm, comfortable, nicely worked and, dare I say, interesting? If socks could cause that much trouble in my life, think what major problems were able to accomplish.
Now, I laugh. Instead of throwing aside the yarn and needles in frustration after the first two socks didn't work as expected, I was eager to keep knitting, to see how the story ended. Rather than stuffing the socks in a drawer, never to see the light of day, I show them around, amused. I'll wear and enjoy them. They're just socks.
This is the way the benefits of meditation manifest themselves-not in monumental changes, but in the ability to handle the experiences life throws you, big and small. Other people usually notice the changes before you do, but with sincere practice and time, you'll find that events, people, etc. that used to bother you are not so earth-shattering. You'll settle, remain calmer, even in the face of stresses more challenging than mismatched socks. When you, or someone else, are confronted with whatever life sends your way, you'll find that you remain calmer, more neutral. You'll be able to focus on the situation, empathize with the problem, without getting caught up in drama and emotion. Oh, you'll still become angry and frustrated (trust me), but the emotions will pass more quickly, bringing clarity to what is actually happening now.
These Frankensocks are a gift, concrete evidence that I can take things in stride and not become sidetracked by expectations. I can, in fact, enjoy the unexpected. That's a pretty good return for a few days work, some yarn, needles, and a regular practice of mindfulness meditation.
(Just to ease my curiosity, send me a note, if you like, telling me which socks you think make a pair. I'm undecided.)