In Which I Admit That Slow Isn’t Always Bad
In our society, those sound like the words of a heretic, don’t they? We’re wired to be in a perpetual hurry and to always be getting something done. I can get very, very bound up in the desire to finish things and the worry that I’m accomplishing things at a much slower rate than everybody else. Writing Monday’s post was one of two things which got me thinking. I’m the only one worrying because my works-in-progress aren’t getting done faster. I need reminders now and then that knitting is about enjoying the process–not simply about counting up FO’s, and that it’s not wrong for me to be working at my own pace, whatever that pace may be. (Okay, if I’m honest, this is a reminder about something other than knitting. But it spills over into knitting.)
This is the other thing that made me think:
My baobab seedling. See that? It’s trunking! That stem was mostly green a month or so ago, and now it’s showing clear signs of becoming a tree. I am so excited about this.
One of my other interests is bonsai. I’m only into my second year so I am, at best, a novice. Bonsai is the polar opposite of knitting because it’s not about finishing. You can’t finish a tree. What you do is gradually make tiny changes over a period of many years: a snip here, a change of branch direction there, a new pot, a little pruning. It’s a wonderful process because it’s all about process. You can’t expect it to hurry up and be done.
I started my baobab seeds about a year ago. In Africa, this tree grows to enormous size and is rumored to live for thousands of years. Oddly, they make gorgeous, unusual bonsai but you have to be patient. It’s likely I’ll cultivate this little guy for a good ten or fifteen years before he’s ready for styling. Watching a tree develop from the very beginning is part of the fun, and I like knowing that if this tree remains healthy, it’ll be with me–and be one of my projects–for the rest of my life. After I’m gone, it will be passed along to someone else who loves bonsai. There are bonsai trees which are hundreds of years old, and which have passed through the hands of many caretakers.
Thinking about this art form is good for my sense of perspective. I still need to feel a sense of accomplishment. If all my projects took an entire lifetime, I’d be incredibly frustrated. But long, slow projects are a nice reminder that the creative process is meaningful in and of itself.
Nice, small projects are good for creating a sense of accomplishment: making a little drawing, finishing a pair of socks, turning wire and beads into stitch markers, repotting a cactus. Those things help make my bigger, more difficult projects seem possible. Some days they do, at least. Other days? Hey, I freak out about it. This week, I’ve done both.
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