Knit 1 Purl 3, Knit 3 Purl 1….forget about it!
Lately (more like for some years now), I’ve become a master at procrastination. I’m not sure how long I have had this “condition” characterized by the tell-tale sign of things left unfinished. You name it….books, first and foremost, partially written letters, hobbies started and almost promptly abandoned, and now, recently undertaken, knitting projects.
Truly, I used to be fairly diligent about completing tasks, at least in my younger years. Perhaps it was because I chose tasks that I knew I could tackle with a degree of proficiency (so far… knitting isn’t shaping up to be one of them.). For example, I did finish my undergraduate degree in four years, graduating when I was 21 (never mind that I don’t remember a lot of what I actually studied). In my thirties, I got hooked on distance running and ran 29 marathons and three ultra-marathons (a total of five if you count my training runs of over 26.2 miles). I stuck with my distance running training with an often fierce diligence …rain or shine, in sickness and in health. It was just what I did…for nearly 25 years. Running defined me…it completed me, and it saved me from falling off the edge of the earth many times. Now, since my third knee surgery, with knee replacements looming in my near future, I am lost. I feel like my best friend has died and, to some extent, that is true. It is nearly impossible for non-runners to understand what it means to be benched…permanently (I’ve stopped trying to explain it). And, forget trying to get those same non-runners to understand how soul-wrenching it is to watch my husband roll out of bed each morning like I did for so many years, and throw on shorts and running shoes and hit the ground before daybreak, running miles and miles before going to work. Really, I am happy for him…but it’s a happiness tarnished green with envy because I yearn to be out, running by his side.
So here I am; I continue to struggle to find things to whittle away my time that was once spent running outdoors in glorious sunshine, or in pouring rain, or in gently falling snow. Nothing so far has captured my heart and soothed my soul as much as running. And, it’s not that I haven’t tried! I do other enjoy other physical activities (yoga, swimming, weight-lifting). I even took up cycling in earnest some six years ago. That ran a close second, I suppose, but it’s not a sport that I am comfortable “enjoying” alone for a number of reasons, chief among them being the hassle of changing a flat tire on a desolate road or cycling safety in general. I’ve tried taking up some hobbies; I enrolled in a community college choir class for two semesters. That was fun but I didn’t stick with it. I keep saying I will study Italian…but it’s hard when one has no one to converse with. I even thought about taking up piano again –even got a keyboard from a friend—but I have yet to get serious about it….learning to read music makes my brain hurt. “Ah!” That’s the point you say…and you would be absolutely right! As we get older we are supposed to keep our brains from turning to mush by learning new things…and yes, learning new things will make the brain hurt! The brain is a muscle after all…and like any other muscle in the body it needs to be worked to stay strong and to get stronger…without the workout, the muscle inevitably will get smaller, eventually atrophying to the point where adding two plus two becomes a real challenge.
A good friend visited me here in “Bama” land just last week. She’s a force to be sure, and a true renaissance woman. She has accomplished so many things…tried soooo many things…that it literally makes my head spin. She doesn’t let moss grow under her feet and I truly admire her. While visiting, she tried some subtle and not-so-subtle nudging for various ways to spend my time. How about quilting? Hmm….not sure that quilting is for me although I love having pretty quilts around. My mamma made a quilt or two….hmm….no….not ready for quilting. “What does it take to be ready,” (it’s simply hilarious that I’m just asking myself that question right now!). I don’t know. I don’t have an answer….yet.
And then there is knitting. Now I have knitted several scarves. The same friend nudged me into a knit store in California a couple of years ago. I did actually finish two scarves while living there. I also started on a third late last year. It’s supposed to be a gift for my sister. It’s somewhere…in one of the boxes in my closet. I’m riddled with guilt (guilt is my middle name, by the way) that I have not finished her scarf. I’m stuck. I’m trying to figure out why I cannot finish the scarf (let alone find it after the move); moreover, why in heaven’s name did I start another knit project….and one that is definitely much harder than a scarf. I have whacked my forehead several times since my friend left. What was I thinking?! Since leaving California I have forgotten even the simplest stitch (how to cast on), and the purl stitch? Well, I may as well have three thumbs and four knitting needles in my hands because that is how utterly clumsy I feel. This project even requires a pattern! I’m embarrassed to say that I cannot even read a road map without my eyes crossing and glazing over! “That’s OK” says my friend ever so patiently. She gives me a good tip; all I need to do is get index cards and actually write down the sequence to follow, row by row. Even doing this simple action hurts my brain. Again, it is because I have never done this before. It’s completely foreign to me. I know that if I just keep at it, it will get easier. Wasn’t it Malcolm Gladwell who pointed out that to become an expert at something you have to do it 10,000 times? Harumpf…that’s a ridiculous number of times. I am torn. The voice in my right ear whispers “Try it…it might be fun. It would make a lovely Christmas gift, don’t you think…and besides….you must keep learning.” But the voice in my left ear is louder…almost thunderous; “It’s too hard. My eyes hurt…my hands hurt…my brain hurts! I’m not creative….And besides, you keep making mistakes… then you have to go to the knit store and keep asking for help…..what a pain in the derriere, eh? Ay….forget about it.” See….that was easy!
So, the knit project is still in a little white plastic bag sitting in the chair in the kitchen. It’s in the same place I left it before my friend left. I see it in the morning when I am having my coffee…at lunch too…and yes, also during dinner. I have not gone back to it since my friend left. It is a reminder that I am starting to become a master at procrastination (in fact, I am getting pretty darned good at it)…and why? I can analyze myself to death (my friend Harry says that’s part of my problem.)….but I think I know the answer.
I’m getting lazy in my old age.
I’ve got to fix that.
I’ll start….Tomorrow 😛