Saturday, February 3, 2018

Lessons Learned

Jacket I wove for my brother.  Motif based on the photo of the Royal Hudson, turned into a graph by Don, adjusted so it could be woven, then woven in modified Beiderwand.

This month marks 10 years since my younger brother died.  It has been 'interesting' - in many ways interesting in terms of the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times", in many ways just plain interesting, as in intriguing, educational, engaging.  Sometimes all within the same week, even the same day.

My brother and I were 6 and a half years apart in age.  We were very different in terms of personality.  When he died, one of his friends lamented the fact that Don was gone because he would miss Don's energy and enthusiasm and referred to Don as a catalyst.  And it was a true assessment of my brother, I think.  He always seemed to quietly make great things happen.

We were not close, insofar as we didn't hang out together socially.  We led very different lives, hung out with a completely different set of friends and acquaintances.  But we were close on a different level.  About every three months, Don would come over and he would share what was going on in his life and we would dissect what it might mean.  As in a 'what's it all about, Alfie' kind of way.

Bottom line - what was the lesson to be learned in this situation?

I think - I hope - I provided him with context.  It started when he was in his 20's and I laid out the timeline for significant events that had happened when he was a child, explaining the stresses that were going on, things that - as a child - he was too young to understand.  After that, he seemed to feel comfortable coming to me to examine the events going on currently and we would pick through the underlying meaning - the life lessons that we might both learn from.

I suppose in a way that this is how I have always lived my life.  And this approach has always been most valuable in terms of learning how to create cloth.  To be able to look at the results, pick the whole apart, see where things might have gone 'wrong' and how to get closer to 'right' in the future.

In a way it is why I think textiles have played such a prominent role in the fairy tales.  When these stories were first created, language was primarily a spoken one, not a written one.  These tales referenced common touch points - things that most people understood.  The creation of textiles was common amongst the people and everyone understood collecting fibre, spinning it and then making some type of cloth from it.  Yarn and cloth were understood by pretty much everyone, so became important metaphors for life lessons.  Rumplestiltskin.  The Swan Princes.  Hanzel and Gretel.  And so many more.

When my brother died I wondered, why him?  Why not me?  I was older.  It didn't make sense for him to go and for me to stay.  So I looked for the lesson.  And realized that I had more lessons to learn before I could go.

The past 10 years have seen health issues galore and over and over again I have asked myself, why?  Why him?  Why me?  Why am I still struggling to stay here?

And again and again the answer is - I have more to learn.

Currently reading Emergence by C. J. Cherryh

1 comment:

Peg Cherre said...

My husband died suddenly 17 years ago. Thankfully, the why question is one that never plagued me. I still miss him, and assume I always will. The biggest lessons learned from his early death are be kind to everyone, and laugh more & worry less. I think I do a reasonable job on the first one, not so good on the second.