When my friend selected Beartown for our book club and said it's about hockey, I was pretty sure I would hate it. I ordered it anyway, because that's what you do when you're in a book club. You read the stupid book even though you know you'll hate it. But sometimes you are wrong. In tiny Beartown, on the outskirts of nowhere, there is an ice hockey club on which the town has pinned all of its hopes and dreams. Through this fierce sport Frederik Backman dives deep into each character, pulling you in as he gently unfolds their world and their reason for needing hockey like they need air. Backman tells a powerful story not just about hockey, but about life - which is kind of the same thing in Beartown.
The coach, David, thinks at one point, how hard he has tried to keep the hockey world separate from the outside world for his players. Outside, real life is frightening and complicated, but inside the rink, things are straightforward and comprehensible. He knows that if he hadn't kept the two worlds apart, with all the crap these boys had to deal with, they'd have been broken a long time ago. As little kids, the rink was their refuge, their happy place. On the ice, they have a focus, a sense of control that they lack in their lives. David teaches them to train hard, control what they can, and win.
For me and for plenty of others, knitting offers that same kind of control and focus that is often missing from our outside world. There is no end to the misery and suffering we find in the news every day. So much is not in our control, and we run the risk of drowning in the darkness. Not to suggest that we put our head in the sand, but it is important to have a refuge - a happy place -- to which we can retreat. Knitting is my happy place. There is, of course, the shop, which is a physical happy place, it's more. The very act of knitting is a metaphysical happy place. What knitting offers is the ability to focus and create --to be in control. To follow the directions and see order emerge from chaos at your own hands is compelling -- both soothing and empowering in a way that is hard to put into words.
We are all looking for that place -- that place where we can do things right, be in control, and experience the exhilaration of success. Knitting offers me that place, and it is there for me always and always.
I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table. You are always welcome here.