of one's existence
one is growing into more
or retreating into less.
one is always living
a little more
or dying a little bit.
- norman mailer
in india, there is a story about a kind sage who prayed in the ganges river every morning. then, one day after praying, he saw a poisonous spider drowning in the water. he cupped his hand and carried it ashore. as he set the spider down on the dry ground, it bit him. unaware, his prayers for the world diluted the poison and protected him.
the next day, he rescued the same poisonous spider from drowning and the spider bit him once again. the next day, the sage was waste deep in the ganges when he spied yet again the same spider, struggling frantically in the water. as the man reached to rescue the insect once again, the spider asked, "why do you keep lifting me out of the water? can't you see that i will bite you every time? it is what i do!" the kind sage cupped his hand and reached for the spider, replying, "because this is what i do."
there are countless reasons to be kind. though none so compelling as the simple reason that it is what we do. it is how we rest in a state of being present. simply being. spiders bite. dogs bark. fish swim. moles dig. we lift each other. without thought of consequence. if something falls, we reach for it. if something breaks, we try to fix it. if someone cries, we try to soothe them. sometimes, like the sage lifting the spider, we get bit for our trouble, but it is what we do. our ability to lift others up. to help. to nurture. to assist. is more important than the possibility of getting bitten. it makes us human. it finds our balance.
i realized this morning the reason i had been feeling so empty. bitten. inward. dark. i just left my current job in a skilled nursing cottage to take a less emotionally (and physically) stressful one in an assisted living cottage. it is the job i had my eyes on from the moment i went to work at this organization. but, along the way, i have reached out and lifted so many up. you can't help but form attachments with those you are helping. not and remain sane. i've attended many funerals. comforted families that were not my own. bathed the living and the dead.
i realized this morning that none of this mattered. it is what i do. what had drawn a shadow across my heart was not the loving and losing. it was that i felt like i had abandoned those elders in my care to take a different position. but i have realized that they still are in my hands. being lifted. being cherished. i may not be by their sides day in and day out any longer. but i am only a visit away. a thought away. and now i have new hearts to lift. new elders to cherish. lift up. this moment is in balance.
i have been looking at a shag rag rug that i am making in the process of teaching a class on various methods of making a rag-based rya rug. i've made many like it before. in various sizes and depths on this old loom (and others). but now i am looking at it in a different light.
looking at scraps and bits from this new clothmaking process and am wondering. what if i were not to be so orderly? what if i didn't cut each strip but tore them? what if i varied the length of the strips? what if i abandoned the constraints of working a specific pattern? what if i let randomness to enter here as well? what if i translated boro style and technique into a more 3d format and applied it to these rugmaking techniques?
i have much to think about. imagination to explore. boxes to think outside of. envelopes to push. i wonder where it will all lead?