It’s all well and good to say that I want this to be a slow practice. But, in actual practice, it feels like a big ask.
This quilt has devoured the preponderance of my creative energy for two months now. Right about now I’d love to simply dash it all together and move on already. Truth be told, I would long since have done it if I could. But, here my slow intentions are aided by the practical. The sheer physical size of this project, coupled with the constraints on my creative time means that I’m still here puttering around. Cutting and sewing. Taking apart and piecing together.
While that all sounds very meditative and rejuvenating, in practice it plays out in white knuckles and worry lines. It means going to bed every night straining to envision an end product. It means walking down the street puzzling over layout configurations. It means sitting on the bus, eyes glazed over, envisioning piecing techniques. It is all-consuming. I am working myself into a nearly obsessive state over the outcome of this quilt top. And yet, all the mental energy I throw at it doesn’t answer any of my questions.
And this is the critical thing I’ve come to realize. Going slowly means remaining in the creative tension for longer. It requires that I balance on the thin line of not knowing. And that, really, is the discomfort I’m fighting. At it’s core, this isn’t a desire to have this quilt finished already. It is simply a drive to step out of the unknown. To go to the comfortable, the stable.
In this, as in all things, art mimics life. Creative dilemmas fill my heart and mind. But, so do relationship dynamics, parenting enigmas and introspective puzzles. I worry myself over how to help this child open up, how to give that child the attention she needs, how to get that one to eat. I wonder about how to strengthen relationships that matter to me, and how I should be allocating my time.
There are so very many things I’m anxious about. I don’t know how they’ll turn out. That’s where the tension comes in. I can’t wait until I know all the outcomes. This is why improv quilting feels so enriching to me. It teaches me to trust. It teaches me to move forward even when I can’t see past the next bend in the path.
One slow step at a time.