Caught in our own webs

I was going to say I had an artistic temperament. . .and then I looked it up. It was very fascinating, but not what I was trying to say. Well, maybe I have an artistic temperament, but what I was trying to say is that I can get very obsessive about striving for the best, or at the very least excellence.

I did this with sewing for a while, but I couldn’t escape this one nagging aspect: although my character demanded that if I was to learn it, I must learn it well (and well, meaning, of course, as close to perfect as humanly possible), the other part of my character said that I simply didn’t care that much about how I looked. Clothes are a rather passing and vanishing thing with very little true importance caught up in them.

This was one of the things that led me to the health-care field. It was worthless, pointless of me to expend myself, my inward drive for perfection, on something that I felt was as meaningless as something like clothes. The goal was to find something I would not regret striving for perfection upon. Now, I do know that there is no escaping futility and non-excellent practices, not in the health care field or anywhere else. But I felt (and feel) that I wouldn’t not, could not, regret trying to help people heal.

This leaves my sewing in a little muddle. I’ve trained my thinking that I must pursue it to the highest level, even while I honestly don’t care. That means I’m tying myself in knots—all I want to do is bang out sewing projects and enjoy the results while they last and maybe recycle them into something else if they don’t last or I don’t like them. Emphasis on bang. It’s not really enjoyable stressing out over every last detail, and I don’t really want it perfect anyway. I just like sewing because I just like making things.

But I spent years ingraining myself with this attitude toward sewing, and now I’m having trouble getting out of it. Part of it, I think, is precisely because I did spend years in it. Now I feel like I have to justify those years, show how wonderful I got at it. Every time my work seems something less than wonderful, I feel something like it’s a discretization of my ability to teach myself and do good work. It’s not about the sewing any more, it’s my invisible reputation with myself.

I want to tell myself to get over myself, but myself is rather reluctant to let go. But I’m determined to take my sewing down to the level of my knitting or baking or various other pursuits—where it rightfully belongs. This doesn’t mean that I no longer want to do good work. . .but that I don’t take it so seriously (too seriously!). That I enjoy it more and am more focused on the end result than on doing everything the “right” way. I fudge my knitting like crazy sometimes. . .usually when I’m making something up on the fly. But I’m happy with the results. Somehow I feel guilty if I’m not precise in my sewing, and that’s just ridiculous. It must change.

It’s no one’s fault but my own; but I feel like I have to “re-claim” sewing. Somehow it became something it shouldn’t be, and in doing so, it alienated me. I’ve been doing some avoiding of sewing, even though I like to sew and want to sew. But there’s too much baggage on it right now, and it needs to be stripped down to what it truly is: a hand-craft. An artistic outlet. Fun. Not a test. A way to take something formless and give it a form. I never get tired of watching that, watching the pieces come together and “something” taking a previously untold shape.

But at the moment, it’s an uphill battle to do a lot of types of sewing. I’m still stumbling over mythological perfection.

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