Knitting Life Together

If we're looking forward -- into the unwritten darkness of the future -- then how can we possibly expect to create something coherent and comprehensible in the present?

Should we not, then, be looking behind us, allowing the lantern we're holding onto (the present moment) to illuminate the steps that we've already taken and then use that knowledge to understand where we're going?

It seems almost counter-intuitive (walking backwards to understand where you’re going) until you actually think about it. I tried to come up with a good analogy and I found that knitting works well.

In knitting, two needles are used to stitch together yarn and create clothing or other items. The yarn usually sits bundled up in a ball somewhere on the floor or in a bag and is unwoven as needed.

Like someone knitting, our focus in life shouldn’t always be on where the yarn is coming from (the future), but rather at the point it's coming together in our hands (the present) and occasionally at what has already been created (the past).

Using what has already been woven together, we make small adjustments along the way, pausing every now and then to step back, take in the bigger picture, and use that to reevaluate our progress.

If at any point in time we don't like the direction we're going, we shouldn’t search furiously for answers in the darkness of the future — we shouldn’t try to make sense of jumbled ball of yarn. That won’t tell us anything.

The interesting stuff isn’t actually in the future at all; it’s in the past, the cumulative result of everything we’ve already done. The future simply represents the source of material from which we can weave together anything.

The most interesting point, the point that deserves the most attention — the point where all the magic happens — is the present moment. The story of our life comes together in our hands, in this moment, not somewhere on the floor in a heap of yarn.

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  1. In Plato’s discourse about the cave, man is situated backward, compelled to face what is behind, what is past, where on the back wall of the cave, the shadows of the future dance.

    I’m reading a discussion of this image by Luce Irigaray, and having all sorts of amazing ideas. It’s not a prompt one hears often – to look to the past and disregard the future… (to grossly simplify) almost completely the opposite.
    But something I’ve become more and more convinced of is that the future / end is something we create, rather than something we encounter.
    And knitting is a perfect metaphor for that. – the end result – in our case, a lifetime, a body of work, a life lived – is not something one has to get to, it is not a destination. We don’t happen upon it haphazardly. Instead we are actively creating it with each action, with each stitch.
    Like the shadows of the future that move, soundlessly, as though requiring interpretation, on the back of Plato’s cave; the future holds every potential. The coil of yarn can become anything.
    The past – that which we have already created – is all we know, tangibly. The point of focused energy, the force-contact is the moment of Now. The current stitch. This is where we not only connect the past to the future, but actively create it, form it, sculpt the shape of our lives.

    What a beautiful image you’ve created, the idea of time, of our days, as a latent coil of thread, shining, and we the weavers.

    • Thank you for so eloquently and succinctly describing the essence of these thoughts, Shawnacy. 🙂

      I love thinking about time as an unwoven spool of potential, ready to be shaped into anything we desire. It’s incredibly freeing too, as it releases any grudges we may hold on the past — what has been created is done and there’s no point in walking backwards when forward holds so much possibility and potential.