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Knitting yourself serenity

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Knitting yourself serenity

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

Back to 20 August 2019 Newsletter

Comments on this post (4)

  • Aug 20, 2019

    Thank you for your wisdom Ellen. I always look forward to this newsletter.

    — Joni

  • Aug 20, 2019

    Hi Ellen – I enjoyed your piece today onserenity. I’m sure that my thoughts will be jumping back to it off and on again throughout my day. Good for mental digestion and nurishment.

    — Althea Fejes

  • Aug 20, 2019

    Oh, Eveline. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal news with me. I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but delighted to see you have made it to 70. I hope and pray that your strength and courage keeps you going well beyond this milestone. Knitting, like praying, is what we do when there is so much that is out of our control. Sending warm thoughts your way.

    — Ellen

  • Aug 20, 2019

    Thank you, Ellen, for your wise words. They made me realize that my waves of unexplainable anxiety over turning 70 next week ( I never worried about birthdays previously) were related to my fear when I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three and a half years ago that I would not survive to 70. One would think that reaching my goal would be pure joy. Your meditation on waves helped me appreciate the undercurrents and complexity of our emotions. Knitting keeps me grounded or better said, able to go with the flow.

    — Eveline Marquardt

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