Needle & Thread & Patience

Started in 2003, finished in 2015.
Started in 2003, finished in 2015.

I made the first stitches on the pattern one morning in 2003, while myself & some of my family sat around my mother’s kitchen table in the sticky mid-morning heat.  We had no power courtesy of Hurricane Isabel & we had not only gathered to keep one another company but to take advantage of the natural light streaming in.  Some of us had books, some paper & pencil.  I had the newest cross-stitch pattern I had bought: a peacock surrounded by blooming trees.

At the time, I knew it would take me awhile to complete the pattern.  But I didn’t anticipate that it would be roughly 11 years between the first & last stitches.  Don’t mistake the delay as an indication of the difficulty of the pattern.  The length of time speaks more to my general distractedness & tendency to leave projects undone.  I would pick up the canvas, work a section for a few weeks, & then put it back for months at a time.  The calm & achievement I felt in getting a section done would often be spoiled by my impatience & frustration with myself.  Why wasn’t I better, faster, more skilled, whatever-you-name-it?!

I know that this negative feeling is really just a bad habit I have, since I often have the same reaction to my writing, photography, & music practice.  I’ll find a measure of joy just allowing myself the luxury of putting words on a piece of paper or repeatedly practicing a music phrase until my muscles memorize it.  But I ruin it for myself.  Not good enough.  Not useful.  Not a chance.

Spring has been arriving here in my little corner of the world.  The longer hours & brighter days help me shake off my winter apathy & push me to finish projects like my stitched peacock.  More & more I’ve been turning my attention to other things left undone—both practical (lining my curtains) & abstract (ideas & unspoken thoughts that could populate many essays).  Finishing my cross-stitch peacock makes me think I’m ready to take on that negative voice & say, “Maybe not yet.  But I’ll make it into something.”