This past Saturday, I had my first soap-making adventures with Michele, Jenny and Carla, fellow string players and lovely people. Later, a non-believer (for lack of a better description) asked me why I do all this strange stuff, by which she meant yoga, arts, and fibre work? I've been asked this question many times—people are puzzled why anyone would choose to spend hours making string and other things which are readily and cheaply available everywhere in our culture. I'm not the Earth Mother type they expect to be practising the “home arts.” My edges can be rather sharp; there is not much warm fuzziness attached to me. (Fuzziness, yes, but warmth? Not so much.) To say I'm disinterested in tending to home is an understatement. I no longer cook or bake, although I did when the children lived here, and I clean only when the dust bunnies threaten to take over the house. My interest in yoga and meditation is more understandable. Yoga/meditation is “weird;” I like to travel the less walked path a bit, so others can understand my devotion to these matters.
Most of the time, my response to such questions is vague and jocular: I do what I do because I do, as do you. This time, though, something shifted and I thought the question deserved a deeper response, one that mellowed before it left my brain. The fact is, I practise because I must.
Although it surprises many people, I am an introvert, a dominant right-brained introvert, to be more precise. (It’s true. As Sheldon says, “My mother had me tested.”) I grew up the oldest child in a noisy, boisterous family in which there was neither space nor quiet. During the time I lived at home, my anxiety levels kept me up near the ceiling, which may explain my fondness for spiders, bats and hanging upside down in the yoga studio.
I've been looking for space, quiet and peace ever since I left. By accident, I discovered that there’s a lot of comfort for introverts in fibre and that the introspection which can come with yoga is perfect for those of us who find the world too much with us. The fact is, I'm looking for whatever keeps me grounded, whether that be wearing flat shoes, sitting in meditative concentration or spending countless hours at spindle and wheel. Practice keeps me in touch with the Earth. It settles my ever too close to the surface emotions and calms my unruly mind. It reminds me to breathe.
Practice keeps me grounded in practical matters, too. Because of my fibre work, I know that the lovely fabrics we are told are natural are probably not. (Bamboo fabric, for example, is likely rayon, and can be as processed and chemical laden as any synthetic fibre. Cotton, unless it’s organic, comes from an industry which is among the worst offenders for pollution, water waste and poor labour practices. Don't get me started on corn.) Because of my fibre work, I have a clearer understanding of how much goes into those consumer goods we take for granted.
Remember this? It took me several hours to spin a bit of cotton fluff:
Eight hours labour and four dollars’ worth of material later, I had a lovely knitted wash cloth, the kind you buy by the pack for a few dollars in Dollarama:
Except that it isn't. This simple thing represents a lot more to me than any store bought cloth. It reminds me what care and attention can bring to mundane things. It prompts me to consider my choices and their potential effects on others in whatever I do. It brings gratitude for the people who do the work that keeps me in a very comfortable lifestyle. It will do well with my presently curing handmade soap. This simple thing is my “Namaste” to all Beings.
Does that answer your question?
(Hey, Vera! All good thoughts go with you.)