Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Spinning Life

This is my spinning wheel. Er, well, actually, it's a friend of mine's spinning wheel, but I'm thinking I need to make some kind of offer to her to change this fact.

Truth is, yesterday was the first time that my wheel had seen any use in well over 6 months, possibly a full year. It might seem that spinning yarn would be a calming, meditative exercise, perfect for those stressful days of unemployment. Yeah, funny how things like that never work out. You see, first, spinning is only calming and meditative if you're any good at it. Since I have only barely crossed that magical line between a non-spinner and "hey look, I think this is actually yarn!" I don't think anyone could fairly call me good at it. As such, spinning can be an exercise in frustration rather than zen if things don't go well.

However, that's not the main reason, or the one most relevant for my purposes, as to why my spinning wheel has been resting alone in a corner for so long. The real reason is that spinning your own yarn is an incredibly useless thing to do. Of course, that's wrong--it's a very valuable thing, a great skill, an enjoyable pasttime, a craft, and more. But not when you're unemployed. When you're unemployed, it's pretty hard to justify sitting around pushing on a peddle for hours to make something that you could've bought for $6 (or in the case of my yarn, could have gotten for free due to quality issues). Shouldn't I be out looking for a job? That's not guilt from others, that's guilt from right inside my little ole head. So it could be frustrating, and I felt guilty doing it.

And unlike other useless things that I persisted in doing to get me through the stress of unemployment, it just doesn't offer the same diversions. You can watch TV and just ignore everything else--there's a lot to recommend this. When I knit, I can either do something else at the same time (e.g., read, watch TV, etc.) or if the pattern is complex enough, I would be focusing on that instead. Great diversion! But spinning? There's not much else you can do and spin at the same time. It takes both hands and a foot, so reading is straight out unless you've got some kind of truly wacky setup. You can't really watch TV since you need to watch the fiber you're drafting out. But it's not a very intellectually engaging activity; it doesn't "keep your mind off of things". Nope, spinning consumes both all of your attention and none of your attention at the same time. Once you get the hang of it (i.e., you get past that whole "frustration" point), it really is quite meditative. It focuses your attention brilliantly inside your own head, where you can think. A lot. About stuff you don't want to think about. Like unemployment. Yay.

But you no doubt notice, dear reader, that the wheel is back! What does this signify? It's a sign that my mind is returning to being a safe place to be left alone in. I spun yarn last night for a few hours, perfectly happy. My thoughts were calm, not stressful. I reveled in the incongruity of listening to an iTunes Genius mix of the Urge, Dada, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, and the Catherine Wheel, while spinning yarn (and if you know who any of those bands are, then you were just as much of a geek as I was in high school!). I thought about my job, my family life, my house, my town, and all without hyperventilating. My life finally seems to be settling itself down.

So I'm going to enjoy this all while it lasts. Does this mean that I'm no longer preparing for the zombies? Au contraire! I feel like that's a project I can finally look in the face again, since it no longer feels like the zombies are already at my door. Also, while I am confident that my current job isn't going to disappear tomorrow, I don't really know what the long-term prospects are for a well-paying administration job in the field of eco-justice. I don't hold out much hope for the lasting viability of our current economy; the growth capitalism model of doing things just isn't sustainable. Will the economic crash (which I believe is still to come) spell doom for my job? Honestly, it seems likely. On the other hand, working in an eco-justice center is a pretty good job for doing preparation, learning and teaching everything I can now, to help everyone through it. So there's always that. But will these days of bliss last forever? Nope. Buddhism got that one right.

So I will embrace impermanence and enjoy this while I can. I will use the calm to reapply myself to things I was just too depressed to work on before. My garden is getting a MAJOR upgrade this year. When I'm done with the construction, I'll post pics (my regular State of the Garden reports). Seedlings are growing in my dining room and on my sun porch (which, despite the name, has almost no access to said celestial being). I'll finally build the vent box for our root cellar to help regulate the temps down there. Maybe I'll even finally build or buy a sun oven! Crazier things have happened. Depending on where we are in a few months, or by next year, maybe we'll finally invest in a wood-burning cookstove. Many possibilities are open.

But what this all really means? It means I need to overhaul the "To Do" list on here. But not right now, I've got yarn to spin! =)


  1. Glad to hear that you are returning to center:)

  2. Maybe this is why I haven't wanted to spin in a while...

  3. Glad to hear your taking time for you. Would love to see the garden over haul, were doubling the size of ours, seeds are in pots still waiting for sprouts..again.*sigh* I think the damn dog ate them...again. Wonder what dog tastes like LOL!

  4. Yes, being unemployed unexpectedly can really throw you off your center. Good to hear it didn't do lasting damage.

    Spinning sounds fun. For me, it's been getting my new garden in. Five beds, two finished, one in the works and two more once the flowers bloom and I can pull them out for other locations. Working the soil with a shovel and the sun shining down is very Zen.

    Since I just found your website, its off now to read thru your back posts.

    Zombies? LOL. I prefer the slow ones myself. Fast one's just suck, and that's a quote from Tom Savini. That man knows zombies.

  5. @dtrammel: welcome! I agree, slow zombies are vastly preferable. Also, make sure you have swords on hand, rather than (or at least in addition to) guns. They make no sound, are easy to transport, and don't need to be reloaded. Besides, zombies seem to be able to take countless blasts to the chest, but don't do so well once their heads are gone... ;-)