The horse's pasture to the East...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

HERE'S TO THE CHANGES, or How I Got My Mojo Back (always a work in progress)

"The more things change, the more they stay the same." My Grandma used to say that to me. Course I was only seven or so. I couldn't see the world from her point of view. She had sixty years on me. She was walking, breathing history and I had no idea how important that was, none. She was born in the nineteenth century, saw the Wright Brothers fly and remembered the barn stormers, pilots who would fly from one small town to another, landing in corn fields and offering rides in their plane for a fee and, if you were pretty like my Grandmother, a free ride (something her parents were not happy about).

She lived through WW One , The Great Depression, WW Two. She grew up in a tiny farmstead house with five siblings and her parents and grandparents, all in two bedrooms and an outhouse. The house had no indoor plumbing. Filling a tub to take a bath was such an ordeal that baths were a once a week event with the Oldest having first privilege and on down to the baby. Ever hear the quote, " Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." ? Think about how murky the water would be after nine people used it. Kind of makes you appreciate a shower, doesn't it?

Everything changes and everything stays the same. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Static change, active change, long range, short range. Patterns repeat over and over, sometimes with longer intervals between but still, they repeat. And I've been thinking about those patterns, how they show up over and over in a family. History repeats itself too. We have a tendency to take three steps forward, four steps back when it comes to politics. And don't get me started on religion! 

The point is that it's up to us to make the change, each individual. No one will make it for us; not lovers or family, friends or colleagues. If you want things to be different, to stop the patterns that aren't working for you, YOU will have to make the effort, take the steps, rattle your own cage until you drop out the side, out of the comfort zone.

Now, obviously, I am talking to myself here. This is my own pep talk, my own accounting of the day's , the week's, the month's changes. If things aren't moving forward or even just bringing me a set of different results then I have to do some more digging to get myself there. I love my comfort zone, would much rather stay there, hide out, maybe eat some good chocolate, than venture out in to the wilds of the crazy, scary edge. 

When my Grandma talked to me about patterns and changes, it was all in the form of metaphor about sewing, quilting and tatting (a nearly lost art of making german lace). She was trying to get my uncoordinated little fingers to thread a needle, line up patterns or tie tiny knots in delicate, complicated circles. And when my skinny little fingers would get tangled up or I would poke my finger and, heaven forbid, bleed on the fabric, she would sigh, tighten her mouth, shake her head and help me start over. I would make the same mistake again (mostly because I wanted to go outside with Smokey, the big gray cat, and climb up to the old tree house and read some of the library books I had stocked up on, a definite distraction for me)  and she would take another breath, trying to keep her patience, and we would start over. She was all about commitment. That meant, in Grandma language, finish the lesson and earn the right to go waste time reading. (Thankfully my Mom encouraged reading, made it clear that reading a good book, learning from the story was never a waste of time) Sooner or later she would say, " The more things change, the more they stay the same." And then she would mutter something about being just like her sister, too small, too timid, someone it took the patience of a saint to teach. And then off we would go in to the scary, crazy edge lands of quilting where even the tiniest miscalculation would throw off the pattern. And the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint my Grandma!

You can kind of see where this is leading, can't you? Patterns were being set as she tried to teach me. She was setting the stage to show me how to be patient with a child, with a new student, with myself. And, because she was always laughing when it unraveled anyway, and sometimes it was her mistake too, she showed me how to learn and laugh to keep myself calm when the mistake was made. Then she would show me how to unravel back to where it happened and left me to try again = perseverance. 

While we worked she talked to me about color, texture, weight and density of the fabric and thread. She talked to me about how to think through a complicated tatting pattern before the tiny threads were set out and held in place with nob headed pins and tiny bobbins. It really was the perfect physical, visual example of the math and science my Mom was teaching to me. There were two different approaches and each supported the other. It's one of those ever repeating patterns I was unaware of until I was much older and had children and then grandchildren of my own. And the first time I heard myself say, " The more things change, the more they stay the same." was embarrassing, and then one of those forehead slapping epiphanies. I was repeating my Mother and Grandmother's lessons while teaching my sons, and later my grandson. 

It's like the water on the pond, the bathwater that gets progressively hazier; if I don't throw a big enough rock in to make a big wave, splash some of the water over the crazy, scary edge, I am going to throw myself out with the bathwater. Getting lost in the murk is not the idea. Hitching a free ride or even one that I pay for in the barnstormer's plane IS the idea. 

Here's to the takers of chance, the cannon ball jumpers and the mess makers. And here's to me, the vintage hippy chic who still loves puddle jumping and my own version of knot tying (with leads and reins, funny colored orange sticks and homemade obstacles) and the laughter and deep breath before I grab the bars hard enough to rattle them. Here's to the tumble and recovery, the spilled paint and still ponds waiting for the day to begin.

Life is good and I am, ever yours, Nancy, head back and laughing! Here's to Changes who are big enough to make a difference.

No comments: