In my early 20s a co-worker I respected a great deal turned me on to “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig. Like most things that enter our lives the timing was excellent. So excellent that 33 years later, it still has an impact on how I view the world. Not in the same way that it impacted a 22 year-old anymore, but in a deeper, more calm, and if you will, enlightened way.
So, “How does motorcycle maintenance relate to cross stitch?”, you ask. Well, on many levels it does. You see, as a child growing up I was recognized as having a “talent” for math. I did not see that it was a talent. I saw it as, “it is what it is”. But I had a love for art and a deep-seeded need to create. Unfortunately, my left brain would rarely turn off enough for me to draw anything more artistic than a perfectly square box. And without a T-square my box was bound to be affected by my right brain and would inevitably turn into something grotesque to both sides of me.
Cross stitch with perfect little squares and the stitching of the floss thru the well defined holes gave both sides of me an outlet. A place where all my strengths could culminate into a masterpiece that I could create. A defined pattern that could be followed exactly and get the same result every time. A beautiful finished product that I created and that became a huge part of my life.
Even after reading the book at a young age, I still spent a lifetime trying to hold one side of me down while the other side developed. Failure to recognize the key meaning of the book I believed I could only be one or the other. I had been cross stitching for a few years at that reading and had rationalized it in my mind as something that calmed me down. Only after many years of the dance back and forth between embracing my logical scientific approach to life for a while, then my artistic, emotional view of life, did it finally hit me that cross stitch was my Xanadu. It was the perfect marriage of both sides of me.
Now most stitchers are not going to go to such great lengths to rationalize something that they enjoy. And the path that lead me to where I am today was less of a rationalization and more of a realization. I finally understood why I loved it so completely!
From my first piece to my most recent piece it has always been a way to calm both sides of me and at this stage in my life I have finally decided to take it from avocation to vocation. To do what I love and to share with others the magic of joining both the emotional and rational sides of themselves into an explosive presentation of that energy that needs to be released from us all.