This past week I pulled one of those strings. You know, the kind that suddenly appear when you are out, or busy, and you impulsively reach out and grab to break it off so it won’t stick out anymore? Only to have it unravel instead of breaking and disappearing altogether, so that you can smoothly go on about your business.
This particular string appeared while I was watching a movie with my Mother. An actress in the film, playing the role of a very articulate psychiatrist, very succinctly explained an issue that periodically crops up in my existence and has done so several times over the years. I left my Mom’s and went about my business but that string was there and I decided to pull it, break it off and get on with getting on.
Twenty-four hours later, what I had was a pile of unraveled thread. That thread was an adventure of almost precise step-by-step processes that reached all the way back to when I was a four year old child. In other words, lots and lots of thread.
It included a quiet conversation with my Mom, some reading online, a 7 minute video on You Tube, a scholarly excerpt full of academic phrases that sometimes went over my head, a search for a particular author that led to a breathtakingly beautiful painting which incorporated a color scheme I just had to experiment with, a rather ugly Mandala loaded with layers of meaning, and lots of writing, as well as whispers of poetry, and a serious look at an old name in the brand new light of yet another Mandala, this one unusual and even a bit spectacular. Whew!
At any time in all of this, I could have broken the thread, even tried to at different moments, but it seemed to have a mind of its own and was bound and determined to do its own bit of unraveling. And to be very honest, I’m not even sure it is done doing so.
There were four of us children growing up. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, so my Mother made do in many small ways. One of them was to periodically mend socks. I watched her engaged in this activity countless times throughout my childhood.
She would get out the wicker basket that always held those old socks that had holes in them at toe and heel. In the basket was an old burned out light bulb that she would push inside the sock to be darned, creating a smooth but stable work surface. Then with needle and thread she would weave a patch, back and forth, over the hole exposed in the sock. Those patches were stronger than the original material and could be felt when the sock was worn once again while working or playing. But, they also made the stockings usable and far more durable for a much longer time period.
It didn’t surprise me when that image of my Mom, bent over a white sock stretched over the surface of a burned out light bulb, popped into my head. It made sense of all this unraveling that I was doing. That pile of thread, unbroken and coiled at my finger tips, ready to be used to create a slightly different, but definitely emotional image for that hole in my existence. That hole created by the periodic issue spoken of in the movie.
The Mandala I deliberately tried to create, expressing the story of that issue, ended up looking like just what it was: a pile of disconnected threads that refused to become anything but discordant coils of meaning layered one atop another. I realized that the only way to actually make it work would be to break it down into those separate layers, creating a series of Mandalas all related to the same issue or focal point. That seemed rather daunting.
So, instead I pulled out a new and totally different design and relaxed into it. About half way through it, I began to hear those whispers of poetry that sometimes occur when I color. It began with the phrase that is the literal meaning for my middle name and went from there. In less than two hours, I had a rather stunning Mandala and a poem about rich red wine and armor kept in a wicker basket. All that unraveled thread had found a home.
A brand new way to see an old story. And that story is written in my journal pages, held in place by the words I have been writing throughout the process. Bits and pieces that once seemed disconnected, perhaps even useless in the greater scheme of things.
What might be even more exciting is that I bought an attractive frame with matt at a rummage sale a few weekends ago. It happens to be the color of deep red wine and the matt is woven like wicker. It will be a perfect compliment to my new image, the one I created, the one that used all those broken pieces of thread and gave new energy to a seemingly burned out light bulb.