Friday, September 09, 2005

Craftsmanship

My best friend was bugging me again yesterday about pursuing my writing as a professional venture. I tend to wave this notion off, because I don’t have any good ideas for a long-winding story, and figure no one will want to publish just a big mess of my idle observations and fragmented memories, let alone buy a volume of them. Yes, at one time it was my dream. But some things, when I relate them to myself, are better concepts than pursuits.

A painted garden spider was building a web between the dogwood and the hedge outside of my front window yesterday evening. The Hub and the boy were cutting the grass, so I had the time to sit for a while and watch her work.

I love spiders. I know this is an oddity among women, but I really do. Not only do they eat bugs that I’m less fond of (like mosquitoes and flies), but they are nature’s graceful epitome of the trade master and artisan. Delicate. Precise. Patient.

All the things I’m not.

I was reminded of a class I took in college as I watched her weave. It was a strange class of which I don’t remember the title, about becoming aware of our connection with Mother Earth and all her beings and elements. It was taught by an aging hippie with pewter colored hair that had not been cut (or shaven) for a long time. She wore cotton tee shirts and peasant skirts, and always jingled faintly when she moved, the way Hindu women do.

Part of the course involved picking a creature or element that would be our “life form” for the duration of the course. Something we would connect with, commune with and essentially become, symbolically and transcendentally. As our exercises evolved, so would our connection with their roles and purposes on the planet.

I chose the spider. The spider is a creature that I have always been fascinated by and respectful of, and this exercise in observances taught me much about why – and what I desire in myself metaphorically - perhaps the root of my admiration of them. These memories of lofty standards pined for came back to me as I watched the garden spider work. She busied herself intently with her project, weaving skillfully. A perfect web. Beautiful. Delicate. Strong. Practical and functional. Graceful slender legs moving, maneuvering, measuring effortlessly. I thought upon the lessons of how success is rewarded for immaculate craftsmanship, lack of discouragement, and a bottomless well of perseverance and patience.

Perhaps my flippant attitude towards the notion of pursuing my crafts more seriously relates directly to that. The skills and traits of the spider within are not what they used to be. I don’t take myself and my so-called talents seriously anymore. But perhaps it’s not a matter of taking, but of simply being. Being what you were designed to be – doing what you were designed to do. The spider doesn’t worry about failure, only in creating what she must to live the life she was meant to live.

6 comments:

Michael said...

Beautiful

JenCB said...

" She wore cotton tee shirts and peasant skirts, and always jingled faintly when she moved, the way Hindu women do."

What beautiful imagery...

I remember a teacher there that fits that description, but she was the literary arts teacher. I can't seem to remember her name right now.

sidetrack said...

Such wise words. There is an American Indian myth about a woman who weaves in a cave and brewing herbs in a cauldron. A black dog keeps interrupting her brewing and unraveling her garment. The dog represents trouble in its unraveling, but it keeps re-creation in life. If that unraveling ends, so does life, beauty, community, Earth. In this way, the world doesn't end. Something that's ending always feeds something that's beginning. The universe is more about stories than atoms. Big hug.

a spoon said...

spiders? brave woman! you write well reckon you should give it a go :)

Lori said...

I am not much of a spider woman myself! But....like you, I can appreciate their artistry and focus. Besides, after we read "Charlotte's Web", who can see them the same anymore?

Your writing is always so poignant and lovely...

Anonymous said...

This is the best friend.

I wonder if you've ever seen the movie Good Will Hunting. In it, Ben Aflec says to Matt Damen, "fuck you, you don't owe it to yourself to take action on what you were given - you owe it to me and to all the people who can never be what they want because they weren't given the talents you have".

You have what it takes to write anything you want. Any one that reads your blogs would agree. JUST DO IT and you better acknowledge me in your first publication!!!!!
Mims