Knitting and the Death of Identity

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.

 

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9 comments

  1. This is by far one of my most favorite of your postings. I never belong to just one group or clique. I have too much creativity for that. I am different. I fit in everywhere and no where. That is okay. It just makes me unique! I am no less or more than anyone else. Welcome to the unique club of Gregory. 🙂

  2. Thank you, as an autistic adult who lives with this as just an aspect of myself, I agree labels are not for people, I do find it easy to be part of a group as they show you how they want you to behave, but as a human we have to be ourselves! I also believe we can be friends when we do not agree with all things, why would you judge others so harshly. Thank you and keep going, label free, just be Gregory, that what we love ❤

  3. Beautifully written post. Far too many people are invested in finding the acceptable label for others. Politicians lead in slotting voters in neat boxes. You are right, each person must discover who THEY are as individuals. And that requires silencing the external voices. Right now I don’t have time for groups since I’m a family caregiver & work full-time. Knitting is a creative outlet for me even though usually I only have a few minutes daily, if I have I can carve out that much time.

  4. I have a lot of friends and many of my friends belong to various groups. I know they are my friends because never once have I been pressured to join. They know that if their group is involved in something that I can support I will be there if needed. They also respect that I might say no thanks, not today. I am also a knitter, have been for more than sixty years. I knit for meditation, for challenge, out of curiosity and for my grandchildren and myself. Sometimes when I am knitting something simple, I climb inside my head and look around for interesting thoughts; my fingers just keep going without me which is a wonderful sort of freedom. Today, I thank my Grandmother who taught me the joys of knitting, listening to music, and the benison of solitude.

  5. Each individual is very unique in just who they are!! It is fun to realize finally that we do not have to live up to anyone but ourselves. Just be!! Enjoy life just being! Thanks for the “Knitting and the death of Identity”. Great story. Speaks volumes about your life. I do a lot of knitting and find it is the same as meditating – plus putting much love into the afghan or whatever I am making for someone to use. I know that when they get it they can feel the love that was put into each stitch. What fun to be able to leave a part of me with them.
    Peace to all –
    Rosanne Taylor

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