I ambitiously pursued monasticism when I was in my early 20’s. Yes, I wanted to be a monk. Went to the closest monastery and said, “This is where I’m supposed to be.”
After a while of being there the monks all agreed that this wasn’t really the place for me, throwing a beautiful line back at me. “Brother, you have far too much to say to take a vow of silence. This may be where you want to be, but out there….that’s where you’re supposed to be.”
So ended my monastic career 🙂
I’m not all surprised that I pursued both knitting and writing as a career, because that path does require the same amount of isolation and time alone with the self that being cloistered does. This path required the same amount of diligence, faith, hope and disciple in vast amounts of silence that a monk enjoys before many of us have even had breakfast.
But, there is a classic beauty in this memory that has reared itself for me to think about. Because with all of these recent discussions about groups and communities, I’ve started to feel troubled.
I went to discover myself in a group. Now, my being that young at that time, I didn’t see how wonderful their refusal really was. Because, the monks beautifully reminded me that my individuality was mine to find if I went searching for it….and it was not to be found in a group, but alone.
Best lesson ever learned in life. Don’t go finding yourself in a group, or in a crowd. No, you can only find the true spirit of who you are by going it alone, by identifying less with groups and relying more on your individualism. Because THAT is what this human experience really is about: finding your own particular uniqueness and how that can only be done without groups, without a name, but sometimes only by writing and knitting….because in those quiet hours you truly do begin to see how you are a creator, not a destroyer.
Rules and regulations, terms of service, and “click here to accept,” all remind you that when you’re in a group, human interaction is basically nil. The “codes of conduct” of the group will always supersede your individuality.
Perhaps the state of the world has a lot to do this. And I don’t mean recently, so please no emails or comments about Trump, this has been happening for a very long time. A very long time. Someone proposed to me that “hate crimes” are on the rise against marginalized communities. To which I could only remark that if you watch your local six o’clock news, it would seem crime is up for everyone. (Or rather, the truly marginalized are really just the innocent…despite what group they belong to).
Since the Ravelry unraveling, people seem desperate to find a new group, a new place to belong, where they can validate who they are with the simple badge splashed on their lapel. No longer do we see the days of “Hello, My Name is (blank).” But, have instead adopted the prophetic loss of individuality with a sticker that reads, “Member of the (blank) Community.”
(My husband, reading over my shoulder, said it best, “Politics did that to us. Always pushing us apart, never bringing is together.”)
Sometimes the face of a group, or even the name of a group, advocates whether they promote either leadership or bullying. Take this advice. Be careful when you decide to hide your quiet self, because your loud self tends to sometimes listen to bullies….not leaders.
Now, don’t get wrong. Groups have their purpose, their advantages. So, please don’t walk away from this blog believing I hate groups. That isn’t my point. Groups can be a great thing to belong to….but, detrimental if we are labeled by them.
Knitters! You’re are trying too hard to view yourselves and (!) each other as groups….rather than seeing yourselves and each other as the beautiful individuals that you are. (!)
Because there is a distinct difference between having a moniker that reads, “Member of the LGTBQ+ Knitting Community,” and another that reads simply, “Hello, My Name is Gregory.” Because being Gregory is a lot more interesting than being any other label you may give me.
Don’t spend all of your time looking for new groups, new places to validate yourself. Use that time instead to be alone with your knitting, with yourself. And when you’re finished binding off, blocking and such, hold your work up high just to remind yourself that this was made BY you FOR some ONE….
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If you are blessed with moments of picking up those knitting needles and finding yourself in self reflection, well then, you’re doing better than most people, that much I can tell you.