“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
I hope you’ll join me in stepping boldly (and gently!) into this new year with what Zen Buddhism calls ‘beginner’s mind’ or shoshin. This way of being in the world is characterized by openness, eagerness, curiosity, a lack of preconceptions. Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi says, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” Lion’s Roar magazine describes this state of mind as “not yet solid with concepts”—don’t you love that image?! Contemplative Christian teacher Richard Rohr suggests, “Ignorance does not result from what we don’t know, but from what we think we do know.”
If I can bring this open posture to my knitting—indeed, to everything I do—I might, as the Picasso quote above suggests, just learn a thing or two!
At Churchmouse, we’ve been thinking a lot lately about why we do what we do, and which results make it worthwhile. At the top of our list: “Our knitters are successful.”
We don’t mean success in the “climb the ladder” sense, more in the feeling of accomplishment we get when we do what we set out to do. That feeling of rightness when a project turns out to be worth the money, and even more importantly, worth the time (after all, you can get more money but you’ll never get that hour back!).
Here’s how that feeling sounds: I did it! I finished it. I learned a really cool thing. I did a little better than last time. It turned out even better than I’d hoped. I wear it. I use it. My husband wore it out. My daughter asked if I’d make her one. It fits. It makes me feel beautiful. A perfect stranger asked where I bought it. I want to make another one…
These are the things we hear from you—the things that make this the best job in the world. Notice, “It’s perfect!” isn’t on the list.
And sometimes success sounds like this: I totally messed up, but I get it now. I nearly gave up but I didn’t. Or, I just wasn’t loving it so I frogged it. As teacher Susanna Hansson says, “Not all projects should be finished.” Knowing when to pivot, when to bail—that’s success, too.
At our first Churchmouse Classics retreat last fall, we explored the life cycle of a project, from starting with good choices, through the doing (and learning) phase, to a successful finish. This year, we’ll continue sharing some of this content with all of you in our Classroom and on our website. Let’s be ‘beginners’ together.