Melissa, one of my favorite people, was in the shop on Saturday. She brought with her batch of the most amazing chocolate chip cookies ever-in-the-history-of-the-universe, fresh from the oven. Still warm. But I digress. Anyhow, something came up about German, and she said that after washing out of chemical engineering in college, she had majored in German. I too, had washed out of chemical engineering in college and majored in English. In all fairness to Melissa and myself, I prefer to think that it's not so much that we washed out, as it is that we decided chemical engineering wasn't really what we wanted to do-- either as a course of study in college, or as a career. Melissa and I are both smart, competent women, and obviously if chemical engineering were something we really really wanted to do, we'd have done it. But we didn't.
My husband has a question he asks regarding every major action a family member is considering: Do you have the GRC? Goals, Resources, and Commitment. Clearly, all three are essential components of a successful effort. Melissa and I certainly have the resources. For me, however, the career of a chemical engineer, as I understood it, was not sufficiently compelling for me to muster the commitment needed to overcome the challenges of the program.
That’s how a lot of us felt about a sweater we were knitting along recently. Close to a quarter of the way into it, about half of the Knitalong group ripped it out. The pattern is not too hard for us. It's an easy enough, well-written pattern, and all of us have knit many sweaters. Nor is it a lack of commitment. Knitting anything, after all, is a huge commitment of both time and energy, and sweater knitters have commitment in spades. It was the project itself. It just didn't speak to them. The concept of a sweater knit in four days is thrilling, but by the beginning of day three, the excitement of the knitalong came face to face with the reality of the sweater they were working so hard to finish. They decided that this was a sweater they would probably never wear and proceeded to find something else to knit with the yarn. Did they wash out? No. Are they quitters? Certainly not. They simply decided that this particular sweater was not their goal.
It would be easy to get preachy on how we should always consider our GRC when we start a new project, swatch, cast on, and work it through to the end. But that's not always how knitting works. It's not how life works. Sometimes we change our mind half way through. Sometimes things just don't work out, so we begin again, wiser, having learned at least one thing that is decidedly not what we want.
In knitting, and in life, the path we start out on rarely takes us directly to our final destination. This is a particularly important lesson for my youngest son, Colton, who is looking at colleges. For some reason, at the tender age of 17, he is expected to know what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Some kids do know. He doesn't. And that's okay. Over the course of his college experience, he will probably try and discard any number of options, veer off the path, and get lost. But in the end, he will find his own way and what works best for him. And that is okay too.
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