Since today is Memorial day, I'm sitting here remembering. I'm thinking about the first quilt I ever made, which, miraculously, I still have, although I admit it's rather shabby and faded. I haven't gotten rid of it only because - well, I'm not sure why. I suppose I'm sort of still using it to cover up a couch that's even worse off than the quilt (a colorful flannel "throw" quilts that was all in vogue back then). It's pretty simple, but I was instantly smitten with the quilting arts - even though my mother did most of the work and my fingers developed serious cramps from snipping the edges of the squares, I couldn't wait to make my next one.
Later that year I attended the Houston Quilt Festival. This was what really solidified my interest in quilting. Not only was I amazingly inspired by the incredible talent I saw, I was freed, too. Because once I saw what other people were doing with fabric, I realized that there truly are no limits to what can be created with fibers, textiles and some crazy imagination. If I thought I was enthusiastic before, at this point I became a wee bit obsessed.
Now I'm at a point in my creative life where I can no longer remember all of the quilts I've made since I started quilting only ten years ago. If I think hard, I can picture a few of them that I've given away, but I'm sure I can't possibly remember all of them. Some of my friends and family are constantly exhorting me to take pictures of the quilts I make, but I've forgotten to do so often.
Recently a friend of mine asked me how I could sell or give away my quilts when I spend so much time and energy on them - it's not an issue with me at all. Once I'm finished with something, I can enjoy it, and I've kept a few for my own house, but really, what I've realized is that it's the act of creating that I love so much, not necessarily the piece itself.
Which is completely fine with me because even though I may not specifically recall each one, they're all a part of me. With each new endeavor I attempt, I most certainly use something I learned from a previous one; I build on skills I already have, and even when I learn to do something new or I "invent" a new technique, it's all coming from that very first quilt I made.
I feel like any creativity that flows through me runs into, around, over or under something that I've experienced before and is influenced by all that to come out as it does. Even when I don't consciously "channel" something I've created in the past, it's probably there, if even in a small way.
It's like any life experience, I suppose. We carry everything we've learned from our lives with us always, and luckily we possess good enough memories to be able to use that knowledge to build new experiences - it's quite excellent, really. Even the things that haven't turned out the way I intended have taught me things that I can and do use all the time - lucky me..
\So I guess that with every thing that I (or you, or anyone else) create, I'm remembering the things I've made in the past, all the people who helped, encouraged and influenced me, and those whose creations inspired me, too, even if it's only subconscious. The memories are in my cells, and with every stitch I'm honoring them. It's that good old circle of life again, creating connections that just expand exponentially in a good way.
Lovely, lovely thought.
Also, a superb reason to get out there and just keep on creating