27.1.18 Making pyjamas
I struggle to relate to a lot of common human thoughts and habits. I know I am wired a little differently, in more ways than one, and that has often meant loneliness and doubt and a strange kind of freedom, all at once.
I keep watching people's preoccupation with being best at things. Not in patiently honing a skill out of sight, not in practice, but in wearing something about you like a prefect's badge. Everyone seems to want to be an authority on something or other these days. As soon as they get a sniff of something they might be good at or an opportunity they could take, they're off, racing eagerly towards acclaim and recognition. They want for the world to look at something they do or something they are and consider them top drawer. They want to be memorable, significant. They want to arrive, and the sooner, the better.
It sounds about the least fun that I can imagine.
I spent the day at my sewing machine today, attempting to make my very first item of clothing - a pair of drawstring pyjama bottoms - and thought about what it means to be a beginner, an apprentice. It such a gift to know that you don't really know what you're doing. Harmless mistakes only trigger panic and horror if, deep down, you already think you should be better than you are, when you secretly think you belong on another level entirely. When you know that you know nothing much, it is easier to shrug and grin it off or to find the whole business a marvellous curiosity. When you decide you're still a beginner, errors become fascinating books to pour over, puzzles to turn, not something to be hidden away or frantically overcome. You're not supposed to be the best yet, you're not even supposed to be getting it all right: you're just supposed to be having a go and seeing what happens next.
I'm amazed how willingly and how quickly we throw away that beginner's identity because I can't think of anything better.
I think I choose to stay a beginner in everything I do. There is so much more space here, so much more room for play and for laughing and learning. More and more, I feel that if my skills are going to grow and refine anywhere, it is in this quiet place of no-big-deal. Here I can really see what it's all about, and that's all that really matters to me in any case.
I feel a strange kind of reassuring joy sometimes, watching people hurry past me, heads down, faces grim, determined to get somewhere.
I've realised I can let them go right on ahead, because where I am now is just right.