Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Friday, 25 July 2014

Simply Red, Part II: Do What You Like

"I experience myself like the tip of a great iceberg of consciousness." (SLOMO, John Kitchin, via Colin Hall)

Colin posted a video yesterday.  SLOMO is a 16 minute documentary about someone who got away-away from cultural expectations, away from constant materialism, away and into a life of, well, simply Being.  You can watch the video here:

Despite the fact that I'm neither a 69 year old man nor any kind of skater, I discovered that I have more in common with John Kitchin than I would have expected.  I'm not there yet, but like Slomo, I'm working towards a practice of Being. Like all meditation practice, it's a simple one, but not that easy.

Long ago and not so far away, I was a person who drove a fancy car (a Corvette, which I loved) and wore silk dresses (which I also loved). It was silly of me, really, because both the car and the dresses were inappropriate for the job I was doing, but I was young and foolish, and believed in the importance of such stuff.  I'd like to say I made deliberate choices to move away from these things.  I'd like to say that, but it wouldn't be true.  Instead, time and circumstance determined much of my life's direction.  Unlike John Kitchin's conscious decision to walk away from a life of Stuff, I fell into my practice, which is still about Stuff, but it's at least different Stuff. I am rather like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, bumping and muttering along the way.  I don't always enjoy the journeys, but I have to say that both the journeys and the landings (of which there are and will be many) have been interesting and probably worthwhile. (There are days when I'm not convinced of that last bit.)

What on earth does this have to do with a post on natural dyeing, you ask?  Well, part of exploring that rabbit hole has been wandering about the natural world, not necessarily all that far from home, but I've attempted to explore what I was seeing around me, to discover what gifts were available in that world, away from what money could buy.  It began with testing plants around our farm, checking out what would happen if I dipped this and that plant, boiled up those leaves, drew on the bracken with charcoal after a fire burned down the old slaughterhouse.  What would happen if I explored what was There. Here. In front of me. Now.

It's been over thirty-five years since I looked down into the rabbit hole (Yikes!) and I'm not ready to surface yet. I spend my days playing with fibres and plants and string.  I practise yoga and meditation.  Like John, I'm not balanced yet, but I'm working on it.  (Mr. DD, the skater, pointed out the balance thing with Slomo.  I know nothing of skating, except how to land on my butt. Hard.) That means that I pretty much spend my time playing with the world like this:

Today's Cochineal pot with Corriedale fleece. The fleece was soaked in alum water and I added juice from a lemon to shift the colour to red.

The resulting fibre after rinsing.

Next in the pot, a skein of commercial wool, a gift for a fellow knitter.

None of this practice makes me a better person.  In fact, I agree with Slomo in that my goal is to avoid becoming an asshole, which seems to me a rather good thing.  I also recognize that I can do this practice because I live in a world of privilege not open to most of the world's peoples. Since this is where I am at the moment, I might as well use it to advantage.

Slomo was led to his life by an old man who told him the secret to old age was to "Do what you like." Sounds good to me.

"These are your good old days." (Slomo)



  1. I have a few, not so many years, before I reach this age and material things are meaning less and less to me. This is not to say I don't like worthwhile possessions, I am a bit of a collector of makers that I admire. He seems a bit of a maverick and thats not so hard when you have had plenty of money to start with. Maybe harder when you are starting from the other end and just affording the rent on a place is hard.

    1. That's true, Debbie. Kitchin could afford to walk away from his materialistic lifestyle. Not everyone can do this. Not everyone has what she needs to survive. It can be quite an eye opener to step back and assess your life, especially in our culture, where want is so often equated with need and those who have believe they deserve to have what they want, while thinking that others with far less don't deserve what they need.