In a recent conversation someone was sharing with me that the sparkle had gone. She was referring to a course of study she had undertaken a couple of years ago and was now, at the midpoint, wondering if this was really what she wanted. That original sparkle had fizzled.
After encouraging her to take some time to assess, take stock, and explore, I ended up saying that no matter what course of study you choose, the first-blush sparkle will at some point diminish and fade. Call it “the law of diminishing returns” or the bane of human existence or acedia…whatever you choose to call it, it happens to all of us in the best of situations. The key is to stand fully in that crossroads, take stock of your life, explore other options while keeping in mind the good boundaries you already have in place.
If there’s anything that knitting and other creative endeavors have taught me, it’s this: if you can move through the diminishing original sparkle, you have the opportunity to experience an even deeper, richer sparkle than before. That first blush excitement of starting a new yarn project wears off somewhere in the vast regions of row upon row of stockinette or stitch after stitch of endless brown. Setting one’s face like a flint to the sun and knitting on, will bring a renewed sparkle in the end. This sparkle is deepened by the satisfaction of completing something, the loveliness of the end result, the confidence building of new skills learned or old ones revisited.
The dear person I was speaking with had recently finished knitting a pair of mittens. This project began very well indeed with a gorgeous blue yarn with little white flecks, like snow. But the sparkle began to fade as she realized it was not going to fit well. At this crossroads she had several, perfectly viable options: 1. just keep going and try to make the best of it, adding a stitch here and there to make it work. 2. keep going as is, and give the mittens to someone for whom they would fit. 3. Pull the stitches out to begin again, altering the pattern to fit her hands 4. Pull the stitches out and start a completely different project with the pretty blue yarn. She opted for #3 and has been enjoying the deeper sparkle of wearing these comfortable and lovely mittens.
A fading sparkle happens in just about everything we experience in life–in our marriages, our parenting, our jobs, our commitments, and even our creative endeavors. But before we jump ship altogether to something we think will give us an enduring sparkle, it is worth exploring how we can achieve a richer or different sparkle within the commitments we have made. This may require just a few different stitches here and there. It might call for an alternate way of achieving the same end. Or we may need to knit the same pattern with a different yarn or knit the same yarn using a different pattern.
Maintaining our sparkle requires an effort well worth it in the end. Some days it may require a white-knuckled grip on the bar in front of us as we fly through the ups and downs of life. Other days require a new set of glasses to see the forest for the trees, the beauty in the mundane. But always, we need each other to encourage, cheer, remind us that being in a sparkle-less place is merely a transition to a deeper, richer sparkle than we’ve known before…if we will take the time to assess, take stock, explore, and above all–Keep
P.S. Ahem. It seems I blog about this topic a fair amount. Hmmm…can you tell this is an area I struggle with? Maintaining our sparkle must be a key element to Living Artfully. More often than not, what I write here on my blog is a kind of “preaching to myself”. If it encourages you in any way, then it’s a double win! Thank you, dear reader, for being here!