Usually I read fiction and I write nonfiction. This has been my pattern for several years.
Lately, this has flipped. I’m devouring nonfiction – memoirs, books about writing – and busily writing short stories whenever I get the chance.
I love the feeling I get when I have a good idea for a short story. I get a little obsessed – but in a good way, not a oh my gosh what am I going to do with my wild precious life way.
No short story ideas are consuming my mind currently, however, so I’m taking the opportunity to do a little writing about myself.
I learned how to crochet when I was 20 years old. I’d just started a year with AmeriCorps, and a few of my fellow Corps members were volunteering for a local charity, crocheting or knitting hats or baby blankets for children and families in need. A friend taught me, and then everyone in my family got a scarf for Christmas.
I still crochet, almost 15 years later. I’m not much more advanced than I was back then; most of the things I create are square. I’ve been working on a baby blanket on and off for the past year. I make a little progress every Monday morning, when I have a standing meeting with some good friends to drink coffee and share.
There’s a thing that happens when you’re crocheting. Yarn gets tangled. Even if you’re really careful – yarn gets tangled. And it doesn’t just get a little tangled, at least not in my world. It somehow comes to life and enters into a passionate samba that results in yarn criss-crossing back and forth through my crochet bag, on the floor, around the legs of the table holding my coffee, and then weaving back together into a giant, unmistakable, unavoidable knot.
I’m accustomed to these knots. When I notice them, I sit patiently and untangle a little at a time. I don’t rush; if I start to notice that I’m not making progress, I tear the yarn, remove the knot, and tie the two new ends together, and continue crocheting.
Every once in a while, a friend will notice me calmly untangling, tugging, pulling, and they will explode with frustration for (or perhaps at?) me. “How do you do that?” they ask, bewildered. “I would lose my mind.”
The first time I heard this, I paused. I lose my mind a MINIMUM of five times monthly. And that is generous. I would say, more honestly, that I sometimes lose my mind every single day.
But this particular issue – tangled yarn – does not make me lose my mind. Clearly I have reached enlightenment, even if it’s just in this one uber-specific area of living.
But usually, in my life, I’m more like that friend. I rip and I tear at the tangled yarn. I spend days agonizing over how the damn yarn got tangled in the first place, and beating myself for allowing the tangling to occur.
This week, however, something has shifted. I have the same ‘problems’ I had last week. But I’m not trying to mentally wrestle them into submission. I’m patiently and calmly untangling threads with little stress or worry.
Nothing has changed but my attitude and my approach. And I’m incredibly grateful for the mental reprieve.