Sunday, May 4, 2014

And Now for a Moment of Un-Zen

If you throw a fit like a crazed lunatic and no one is around to hear you, do you still make an ass of yourself?  I'm gonna have to say yes.  So it's no surprise  but it turns out that I am anything but Zen. I'm terribly disappointed in exactly how far from it I am, in fact, but I feel I must fess up and face my undignified behavior, in the hopes that someone else out there can somehow learn from my failure to remain calm, productive and most importantly, present, in the face of frustration.  

A month or so ago, you might remember that  I was lamenting in this blog on my lack of modern quilt design ideas.  I realized I can't force what kind of inspiration I get, and should just be glad to have any (or so many) ideas, regardless of how they might be classified on the quilting rubric.  Then one night I was suddenly jarred awake by the inspiration for not just one, but two graphic and mod quilts - hooray!  Naturally I was very excited to get started on them, so throwing aside my current project, I began my new, modern one.  The design is deceptively simple, seemingly only complicated by my lack of math and spatial skills...perhaps it should have been a warning that I had to spend several, several hours calculating and figuring, but in the end  I was kind of proud of myself when I finally got the exact configuration and lengths with no help from husband or son.  It's a very linear piece, which I know is difficult to sew accurately so I told myself at the beginning that I was going to take it very slowly, that I was going to cheerfully pull out stitches when I needed to and that I was was going to, above all, enjoy the process and not focus on the outcome.  

Days One through Three went very, very well - I was really enjoying myself, despite routinely having to rip out and re-do about about a quarter of my stitches.  I did note on Day Four that perhaps I was was spending too energy attempting perfection,  because the more I tried, the more I had to rip out vast amounts of stitches.  I figured I was out of alignment with the moment, and I decided not to pursue flawlessness so relentlessly and Viola! suddenly I found I was making far fewer mistakes.  

By then, however,  I was exhausted from trying to not become frustrated, so even though I only had two or three more rows to sew, I decided to stop.  I was too busy to work the next day, which I figured was good, because I had ALMOST become angry and frustrated on Day Four and I figured I could regroup and recover my zen anyway so that the last day ( I actually figured it would just be an hour or two of work, tops) would be smooth and frustration-free.  Also, I've noticed that often near the end of a project (pretty much any kind of project, not just art-related) I tend to make more mistakes for some reason which I have yet to fathom, so again, I thought not being able to work for a day would help avoid that issue...oy, was I wrong!

When I finally sat down to finish the piece up, everything went wrong from the very start.  I literally had to rip out every seam I sewed that day - some of them twice.  (Remember, I only had about eight seams to sew left, total but I had already been working four and a half hours and had only completed three)   I could feel the frustration boiling, but I tried to remain present and be in alignment with the moment... "Just be calm, just take your time.  Carrie - your aren't in a hurry.  You want to do this right.  It's okay to rip out this seam again, don't be frustrated, it's the process, Carrie...Carrie...CARRIE!  Stop being upset, don't curse, calm down...AAAAAAGH!  I can't stop it I'm furious what the hell is going on here?  How can this be wrong? I checked and double checked it, I pinned the hell out of it- what is the matter with me, how can this possibly be wrong?!"  (CURSE, CURSE, BLOODCURDLING, PRIMORDIAL SCREAM...BAM, BAM, BAM - OUCH, THAT HURT! I'M OFFICIALLY OUT OF CONTROL, I MUST WALK AWAY. WHY AM I SO ANGRY (OUCH MY HAND HURTS) I NEED TO STOP NOW!  OKAY, OKAY, I'M WALKING AWAY. I'M calming down now a little. O god - I cannot believe I just did that..."

Storm passed now, in pain, and appalled, my thoughts continued:

"Oh s#@&, I'm truly insane!  Where's the straightjacket - I'll put myself in it!   Thank god no one saw that (but I actually looked around furtively to ensure that no one was around).  "But what if my father actually heard me scream like that from his house a mile away (it turns out he was in town that morning anyway). It might have killed him!  Would I have acted that way if the boys were home (no, not that out of control I'm certain, but it was scant comfort as I still did do it).  Did I forget to take my hormones (never, but that would have at least been an excuse...not a good one, but still, an excuse...) I really can't remember the last time I threw a fit like that, unless it was when I was two and scared of my allergy shots...so my mental maturity is that of a toddler? Lord, help me!"  

Finally completely humiliated and sad:

"Well, I am certainly failing in my quest for spiritual growth and awakening, aren't I.  Probably I'll never get there at all.  Maybe I'm just too far gone for that, I should just give up. I guess I'm just doomed to be an unholy, unhappy mess for the rest of my life.  Maybe I'll do better in the next life...God, I SUCK!"

Yep, it really happened like that.  I'm not exaggerating.  Unfortunately.  After taking a lunch break, I made myself go up there and survey the carnage.  (It actually wasn't too bad; even in the depths of my transformation into the Incredible Ass, I knew I had no fabric to waste.)  I even put the thing together and finished the top, calm now and able to see the problem and fix it.

I'm not proud of it, though.  And I certainly can't explain my sudden inability to summon even the most rudimentary bit of wisdom and self-control, either.  The weird truth is that even though I practice spirituality daily, I've noticed myself acting out of character a lot lately (just not, thankfully, on this absurd scale) as if instead of making progress, I'm actually moving backwards, spiritually.   Again, inexplicable.  And a little disheartening, not to mention SCARY. I literally didn't know I had that in me! 

The only solace I can take from this is the thought that I really don't think I would have done it if there were anyone within hearing.  This and the fact that no one actually was within hearing. 
And can you believe it - I really LOVE this piece!  Ha - you'd think I would hate it, huh?  But  It's one of my all time favorites!  Go figure.

I sincerely hope I've learned something from it, although I haven't yet cracked that nut.  My sweet husband said "You can't be perfect all the time, Carrie."  As if I'm ever even remotely in the same universe with perfection - huh!  I appreciated the words of support, but I thank goodness he wasn't around to witness it - he might feel a little differently if he'd seen it for himself.

I also don't know why I am compelled to share this moment of shame, (hope it's not the Catholic guilt coming back - I've worked hard to banish that) because I am truly saddened and appalled by it.  While I'm realistic to the fact that it's highly likely that there will be many more moments of frustration in my life, and that I won't always be able to handle them in the manner I wish I would, I at least hope to not repeat this sort of unfathomable, disproportionate response again, ever.  

  And now back to our regularly scheduled zen...