Hands shaking, foot tapping, tongue sticking out I slowly advanced towards my objective. Slow, slow, slow, the thread advanced towards the tiny opening. Almost there, almost there…and at the last minute the thread darted left. Yet again, I missed the eye of the needle.
There was some inventive muttering and a curse word I still won’t admit to. Mom just raised an eyebrow and told me to try again. This was the summer of sewing. Mom decided that my brother and I needed to learn basic sewing and mending skills, plus sewing machine 101. John took to the tasks quickly. With his exceptional hand eye coordination and endless patience, the manual tasks of sewing were easy for him. I on the other hand struggled. With no depth perception, and the patience of a juju bee, trying to master the art of hand stitching a straight line taxed my non existent patience. The threading the needle lesson resulted in quite a few tears and a very unhappy Clara.
Bless Mom for having some extra patience. She wasn’t pleased that I seemed incapable of sewing in a straight line, but she kept encouraging me to master the basics. “What if you need to put a button on a shirt?” she’d ask.
“Glue” was my inevitable reply.
I did eventually learn how to do a basic hem, stick a button on a shirt, and stitch two pieces of fabric together. All without the addition of glue or duct tape. It’s not always pretty, but it is functional and I can get by until I can get myself to a tailor of seamstress. Or send the offending article of clothing back home.
Like any skill, mending requires some effort and a good bit of practice to get good at it. Anyone can slap a button on and attach it with some ugly stitches. If you want the button to look like every other one on the shirt, that takes work. Basic function can be achieved quickly. Making it pretty takes time. That’s when you make a decision. Do you spend the time needed to master the skill at the pretty level? Or do you go for functional and move on to something else that has a higher priority for you?
I’ve been content to keep my mending skills at functional. This weekend I fixed a torn strap on a favorite baseball cap, then reattached part of a sleeve on a t-shirt. It was nothing fancy, just some basic work that keeps two items of clothing functional and neat until I can get around to replacing them. I chose basic function, and then delegate to others who enjoy the process of mending more than I do.
Delegating is something most of us struggle with. Rather than obtain functionality in a skill, we fixate on doing it perfectly often ignoring the steps required to reach mastery. When we can’t do something perfectly, too often the task is tossed by the wayside, ignored. Worse, we berate ourselves for failing to accomplish the task at mastery level.
You can’t master everything in your life. We all have strengths and weaknesses. The key is understanding that learning a functional level to a task moves you forward. Waiting to achieve mastery before attempting the task means you don’t move at all.
I mended a shirt and hat this weekend. They look fine, and will hold up to the tasks required of them. I moved forward this weekend. Did you?
Committing to a 365 day art project is challenging. Committing to two of them means days like this. You just cannot find motivation and have to rely on that little bit of shear cussedness. Art doesn’t happen unless you work on it. Words to paper, paint to canvas, or finger to shutter. Make the effort, and resolve to get a bit better tomorrow.