Jul 14, 2010

Serenity, attachment and growth; enlightenment through crafting

The Pearl cat woke me up this morning by being loudly disturbed about the first mate locking him outside last night, so I'm awake with the respectable people for once, sitting on the floor with my laptop, drinking mint tea and reflecting on all kinds of deep things. This is apparently a natural consequence of my being sleep-deprived in a way that involves being up far too early. (At least, the reflecting part is natural for sleep deprivation. The mint tea and sitting on the floor are less common side effects.)

So far, aside from making tea, renewing a couple of shop items, and chatting with people on Twitter, I've used my unexpected morning to work on spinning some batts I've had stashed for a little over two years.

Enchanted Knoll Gypsy batts
Gypsy batts from Enchanted Knoll Farm

See all that lovely texture and variation? I'd forgotten, in my quest to spin smoother and thinner yarn, what it was like to spin solely for the sake of spinning. This morning, in making spun order out of that seeming chaos, I rediscovered it. That's a testament to how well-prepared these batts really are — they're not uniform, so I have to pay attention to what I'm doing to spin them reasonably evenly, but they're easy to spin, without stuck-together clumps that distract me from the purity of adding twist, drafting, feeding yarn onto bobbin, repeating. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to keep spinning past my allotted time, never mind if the tea got cold.

Interestingly enough, this fiber was in my stash last year during my first Tour de Fleece, and I stared at it quite a few times without bringing myself to try spinning it. I didn't trust myself last year to do it justice; I also didn't want to let go of that bit of treasure in my stash. Today — or really, yesterday, which was when I started spinning the first batt — I was finally ready. I was no longer attached to it being just as it was; it, and I, were ready to transform.

And this is why attachment is forbidden to Jedi (so quoth Anakin Skywalker). Attachment obstructs change, progress and growth, and it certainly obstructs one's ability to promote peace and justice in the galaxy. ;)

Anakin's not my favorite Jedi by a long shot, or even a great example of how one should behave (uh, yeah — being whiny, melodramatic, dishonest, and having rage issues doesn't exactly make one a prime candidate for Best Jedi of the Year OR Best Person of the Year...), but the point behind the "attachment is forbidden" policy is still solid, in pretty much every area of life — at least, in mine.

Now, it's extremely important to differentiate between attachment and passion. Attachment may be potentially bad, but passion can be very good. True, it's also on the list of Jedi no-no's, but IMO, to some extent it's okay even if you're a Jedi, no matter what the letter of the law says. Being passionate about justice, for instance, but not letting that passion control you, would be great if you were a Jedi because it would probably inspire dedication. The key is not letting passion control you. Letting your passions inspire and motivate you is the positive side of passion, but when they start to control you, things veer back into the irrational attachment category.

Of course, if you're not a Jedi, you have a lot of leeway for letting your passions control you, since your attachment is pretty unlikely to be a matter of life and death if your passion is, say, cooking, making yarn, designing jewelry, or offering great customer service. ;)

Still, you get the point. Reason plus passion can equal creativity, but attachment plus creative desire can equal creative block.

That also occurred to me the other day when I was doing some lovely lovely math related to new spinning fiber plans (see, math IS useful — it should be required that math teachers provide a variety of concrete, real-life examples as to why kids might want to use their math skills in the future). I had two pounds of fiber waiting to be split up, imbued with colors, and carded into nom nom nom batts, and even after rechecking my math to correct all the ludicrous errors, I found that two pounds was an ample amount for what I want to do. Amazing!

Why amazing? Because two months ago, two pounds of fiber seemed like nowhere near enough. And that was because I was attached to my stash.

Phat Fibery stuff, July 2010
Getting un-attached help me turn this around-two-pounds of fiber into...

Phat Fibery stuff, July 2010
...THIS glittery pile of happy fiber! ;D

The point of my babbling becomes clear now, I hope. ;) Even two months ago, my attachment was driving me to hoard my precious spinning fiber, even the stuff I had bought specifically to dye and blend and spin for the shop. Like, uhhh ... my attachments were literally keeping me from producing what I need to produce to have money to feed me and my cats and my boyfriend, and nice things like, you know, a house to live in.

So where the heck did my attachment go?

I think the real answer has multiple parts. For one thing, I've been slowly untangling my brain, even by setting goals and failing to meet them. (I read somewhere recently that truly successful business people don't go into business expecting to succeed — they go into business expecting to fail and to learn how to succeed. I doubt it's universally true, but the idea has a truthful ring to it...) Untangling my brain inherently means letting go of ingrained, unhealthy ideas, so naturally a lot of random attachments are getting loosened in the process.

For another thing, I've reached a financial turning point. I hate to admit my hard-won savings are looking thin, but there it is; they are. However, I'm not even a little sad about using that financial cushion to give myself time to untangle my head and really figure out where I want to go with my business and my self. It's something I should have done a long time ago and didn't because I bowed to the ill-considered opinion of a figure of some authority, who really should have known better — and now I have proof that I should listen to myself first, then to others only if what they're saying jives with what my heart and soul say. But having less money to work with now gives me more incentive to look at what attachments I'm being silly about, and what things I own really contribute positively to my life.

Oh, I'm not a glowing Zen icon of perfect emotional balance (...yet? ;)), and I still feel cranky or disappointed or negative some days, but I can see myself shedding more attachments as the summer goes by. I'm walking without my emotional crutches more often now.

And that's what attachments are, really, not just for me, but for many people — a crutch; a poor substitute for true balance and an impediment to self-reliance. Interestingly enough, letting go of personal crutches is making me more creative, more productive, and maybe even a better business owner. And all this personal growth is coming out of my decision to be a crafter, to use my savings, to take a risk, to follow my dreams, to stop letting fear-based advice sound like a reasonable choice for my life. Funny how it works like that. ;)

"Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So, you might say that we are encouraged to love." Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones
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