Monday, July 30, 2007

Success, Significance, and Legacy

"Like lace and embroidery,(drawn-work's) first traces were discovered hundreds of years ago when, according to present history, the countries known to man were yet in a primitive condition, and the times were those now referred to as "the dark ages."

Even in those days, needle-work of various descriptions, though of rude contruction, was found in the tombs of those who had lived in other centuries even then long since passed."

- The Art of Drawn Work (Butterick Publishing Company, 1896)

This is a motivational message to all creative procrastinators...

If you never take out the machine, you will never begin the sewing project. If you never pull out the knitting needles, your grandchild won't have the blankie. If you never start typing, that screenplay will never exist. As they say, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".

Why do you sew/knit/embroider? It is so much trouble! To the casual observer, it may seem a waste of time to repeadly stab a piece of cloth, making a delicate swirl on a collar, that will be nearly imperceptible to passers-by. When you finish a successful garment or accessory, that beautifully calm feeling is priceless. But it really isn't about the finished product. No, it isn't. It is about the process; the journey, really. You can't buy that at Target!

Seriously though, when you make something for someone you love, it has a special significance that trancends the object's function. When made carefully, and made to last, every detail, every slight irregularity, adds to its beauty, character and uniqueness. That project educates you along the way. Not only did you need to make it; it needed to be made. When you create something that will outlive you, that extends your reach into future generations, that is where legacy comes in. It is a gift, a service...

Vernice Armour, the first African-American female combat pilot in the US Marines, is a beautiful example of how viewing one's life goal as a service to others can lead to self-discovery. She is a big picture thinker, and presented such a motivating description of her life's calling in a TV interview ith Tavis Smiley, that I felt compelled to share the link.

On a personal note, my grandmother is 95, and lives in a nursing home in PA. She has had an Altzheimer-like condition for most of my life, so we have never really had a conversation that made any sense. Her nurse told me that, although my grandmother no longer speaks, she seems to be doing something all the time... a repetitive motion... "It looks like sewing", she said.


  1. It definitely is the process, the journey. There is something fulfilling, like nothing else, in using one's hands productively. I think this is something we share with gardeners, artists, chefs, construction workers. I really enjoy the process of knitting. It's not really about the finished garment. I like making the stitches....seeing them all line up just so. I like the rhythm of it. I think it's a form of meditation in fact. It frees your mind and allows you to live in the moment for a precious time.

    I'm enjoying these posts, Mimi, thanks!

  2. Exactly - I like the process, the how-to of sewing. I find all the hand stitching enjoyable, because I can just let my mind wander - don't ask how, but I do keep at least one eye on what I'm doing! I'm so bad about it, that I really dislike finishing a project and will sometime procrastinate only because I still want to be on the journey.