My high school physics teacher, Mrs. Corbin, a rare gem who wore a lab coat to class, introduced wave theory to me. My only experience with waves was the ocean, where current and tide and a whole host of other forces at work that made simple waves confusing for me. She explained that a wave makes the water rise and fall as it passes through, but despite appearances, it doesn't actually move the water forward. It was hard for me to understand until she brought in a Shive Wave Machine pictured above to demonstrate.It was fascinating to see how the bars moved up and down as the wave advanced horizontally across them and then return to their original point. The waves didn't take the bars with them but were disturbances in the bars' otherwise calm steady state.
That's what emotions are -- waves moving through us and disturbing our calm. They can make us giddy and high, or they can bring us to a place of deep sadness and pain. Either way, as the machine shows, emotional waves are merely disturbances that run through us, neither changing us fundamentally nor moving us forward or back. Because it is a wave's nature to move, they do not last -- nor would we want them to. Certainly we're anxious for sad or angry feelings to be on their way, but even moments of intense joy are hard to manage over an extended period. What we are looking for is not a series of highs on which to jump from one peak to the next, but rather a calm steady state. We seek serenity.
Serenity is that feeling of ease despite the forces of the waves moving in and around and through us. It is the ability to notice without judgment what is happening. It is letting the waves wash over us without needing to react. It is enjoying the pleasure of the good in that moment, knowing it will not last. Endure the misery of the not so good knowing that it too will pass over us. Centering and focusing our mind helps create a steady state. For me, that is the primary reason I knit. Simple rhythmic stitches are my mantra that anchor my attention despite the thundering all around. Those easy regular movements, as automatic as breathing, soothe and calm the body and the mind as the waves of life pass over and through me. It is not exactly meditation, but it's pretty close, and it helps.
I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table. You are always welcome here. ~Ellen