Friday, November 6, 2009

Friends Don't Let Friends Quilt and Think - A Lesson Learned

Sometimes I do crazy things.  If you ask my friends and family I do a lot of crazy things.  Right now I am making a quilt.  You may think to yourself, that is not crazy, people do that all the time.  The problem is the one quilt I thought I was making has turned into 3 quilts.  If you add that to the fact it is the holiday shopping season for my company and I have relatives coming into town... well, you get the picture.  I am crazy.

So today while I was piecing together the 2nd quilt top I had a moment of clarity.  (For those guys reading this who couldn't care less about quilting I promise this will quickly leave the sewing metaphor.) I had 10 fabrics that had to be placed into 20 blocks with a "random" pattern.  This sounds simple, but it isn't.  Being random is hard.  I am an engineer by trade and I want to analyze everything.  I wanted a pattern to my randomness.

After about 2 hours of placing fabric on the floor in different arrangements I realized it was mathematically impossible to do what I was trying to do.  For all of those who just scratched your heads, yes I am a big enough geek that I really did pull out a pen and paper and put numbers to this problem.  I am sure my algebra teacher would be so proud.

So I sat there on the floor, covered in thread scraps and realized I had a problem.  I had to basically start over and attempt to be more random.  For an engineer this is like telling me to wear unmatched shoes with different heal heights.  It amounted to being painful and awkward.

So here was my moment of clarity.  My life is like the quilt I was putting together today.  I try very hard to find a pattern in every action, every conversation and every event.  I want things to fit into place neatly and with precision.  The problem is life doesn't work like that.  Just like my quilt, I have many fabrics filling many roles in my life.  They don't always work well together.

So what do I do about it?  I was not happy to be sitting on the floor covered in thread and fabric scraps while having this epiphany.  It would have been much more convenient if it happened after I had the (soon to be amazing) quilt was finished.  I want my life to fit into every slot just right.  I like symmetry and order.  I like understanding things.

Apparently I am supposed to mull this new thought over for a while.  The quilt is getting closer to completion, but I don't know what to do with this new clarity.  I assume I will think it to death before I give up and surrender.

So the moral of this story is as follows:  Do NOT quilt and think at the same time.  It can be dangerous.  You may have some profound thought which will change the way you see your life. Every time you change the way you see things you grow, and that can be hard.  So to be safe, stop quilting.  Or stop thinking.  Either one will solve the problem.

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