I read a post recently about ‘walking the grid‘. Walking the grid means keeping things simple and adopting a routine as a way of centering yourself. When you’ve failed or experienced a setback or are just plain out of whack you walk the grid. It takes you back to square one and helps you to re-launch.
I have never formally walked the grid. I find it very difficult to incorporate much structure into my life at the moment since I’m living at the whim of a one-year-old and a four-year-old. For example, getting up to write every morning isn’t always possible, and not something I’m about to do when I don’t get enough sleep as it is. But I’ve recently realized that when I’m out of sorts and I need grounding, I do have a de facto method of accomplishing just that.
I make something with my hands.
I think this is one of the reasons I’ve been sewing up a storm this summer. My life is in upheaval and it often makes no sense. But I create a dress or a picnic roll-up and suddenly I’ve accomplished something. Really accomplished something, because I’m holding an object in my hand that didn’t even exist before. Sure, it might take me ten times as long to finish as it did before I had two children underfoot. And sure there might be some frustration in the creation process. But that’s not really the important part, the important part is that I did it.
Working with our hands is something that few of us do anymore. Most professional jobs can be summed up with the phrase ‘works with computers’. Writers, lawyers, programmers, designers, TV graphics people, bureaucrats, bankers, and on and on and on. We spend our days sitting in front of a screen. We buy our household goods and our food ready-made. There is great convenience in that, in not having to spend our time knitting socks for a family of 12 or churning butter. I don’t particularly relish a return to the days when underwear didn’t come in a 3-pack from Costco.
But there is value and freedom in working with our hands. It’s a kind of work that is much different, much more tangible and real. When engaged in it you can often let your thoughts go, as it adopts a sort of meditative quality. There are smells and textures (and maybe even tastes), and you learn to do things by feel. Making something is sort of like riding a bicycle – in the end the best way to learn is just to do it, again and again, until you master it.
Right now, as I am in the process of dreaming and creating a life, making things is very important to me. If nothing else it gives me something I can point to in the midst of the chaos, something that is just my own. Something just for me.
What about you? Do you find making things to be grounding, or do you have another method? And if you do make things, what do you make?