I decided to try something new this week. Skip the fretting about things beyond my control. Stop binge-reading the news. Cement myself fully in the real world – the analog one.
I decided to have a hobby.
For the sake of efficiency, I went with something I’d done before. Something old, something knew. I decided to sew a quilt. Winter is near; we could all use a little more comfort.
I used to sew in the past, many moons ago. It had been so long since I touched the machine that I’d let it go. I lent it to my daughter a while back, but it didn’t ignite the same nostalgia, the same spark, in her that it did in me.
So I brought it home.
My new home, of almost seven years. Seven years since I turned its dial, since I slid the thread through its tiny needle. Seven years since it sat in storage, neglected, before I passed it along. Before it returned some months later like a prodigal son.
I set it up gingerly, winding the thread along its timeworn path. I found the bobbin in pieces and clicked the clip into its rightful place. I heated the iron and pressed the crisp stack of fabric.
The dog curled up on her nearby bed, lulled to sleep by the intermittent hiss of steam. I cut a few pieces of fabric into strips, then carefully aligned their edges. I sat down in the kitchen chair turned writing chair turned sewing chair and took the first seam.
It all came flooding back.
The years of sewing in the corner of my daughter’s bedroom. The warm glow of light at my back, working in my shadow for hours on end, then days, then years. The mindless projects. The serious ones. The ones I’d completely forgotten about. The elaborate vestments I made for the priest from yards upon yards of brilliant white brocade, the gold trim carefully stitched along its edges. I hadn’t thought about it in years. Suddenly it was back in full detail.
You never forget, do you. The skills, the stories – they all get filed in their boxes waiting for you to poke around the attic and rediscover them. Share them with someone, or just sit and reminisce on the random moments of life. The real life, the analog life. The life where you occasionally do things just for the pure joy of it. Not mindlessly – mind fully.
I sew another seam.
“How’s it going,” Alan stops in to ask. I show him my progress. He asks about the piece that was broken. No, not broken, I respond. Just a bobbin clip separated from its case, held together by tension. “Aren’t we all?” he replies and walks away.
Aren’t we all.
The words strike me in a particularly pointed way. That we might spend our days like that, willingly. Balancing on pins and needles. So tightly wound we might snap at any moment.
The same bobbin is part of a well-oiled machine. One that can create beauty, memories, comfort. The tension is necessary for it to do its job. Enough tension. But not too much. Too little, it isn’t effective. The fabric comes undone. Too much, it snaps. The thread is broken.
I carefully turn the bobbin case over in my hand. Who knew it could all be so prescient.
I sit back down and face the machine. Tonight it has my full attention. No reading the news; no fretting about things beyond my control. The challenges will still be there by morning. For now I live in the moment, mind-fully living in the analog world, the warm glow of light at my back, the promise of comfort in my future.