Works in progress

I’ve been thinking about mistakes. One of the many lessons I learned while training to be a teacher was this:

Mistakes are required.

Which is to say many things, one of which is is that the best way to learn a thing is to make the mistakes. Someone else can tell you a thing many times, but the lesson of trying the thing and messing it up is far more effective. Making mistakes, learning from them, trying again. This is how we grow, gain knowledge, become experts, become better humans. This is not so easy, though. Mistakes are uncomfortable. But perhaps it is only when we learn to sit with discomfort that we truly grow.

I don’t tend to love January as the beginning of the year (I’ve talked about this before — September is my preference), and in the past I’ve been not so great with setting intentions and following through. That “one little word” thing that people do hasn’t really resonated for me, for reasons that are becoming more clear to me as time passes. But recently, a message started repeating itself, over and over, louder, stronger, as I have tried to open my eyes and ears and really listen and understand what I need to learn:

Bloom where you are planted.

As I’ve tried to think about what exactly this means, it is becoming more and more apparent to me that this is something I must actively work to do. Accepting the mistakes as part of the process.

In some ways, this sweater is like a plant: it’s growing bigger and bigger, and it’s green. The analogy is imperfect; my plants grow without my direct work, though in my defense I do put in at least a bit of effort, but recently while researching the best way to propagate the monstera plant which is currently attempting to take over my living room, I stumbled across this line in a blog post that stopped me in my tracks:

Plants (like people) grow and grow, but they don’t (like people) always grow the way you want them to.

I can’t stop thinking about that line. In some ways, people are like plants. If there is something about our humanity we can count on, it is that we will continue to grow, even without our direct effort. The mistakes are inevitable. Trying to grow into better humans seems to be the collective challenge.

my unwieldy Monstera

As I grow this sweater, I think about all of the mistakes it contains, some corrected, some not. I think about how even the act of learning how to knit a sweater is changing me, growing me. I am changing, I am learning, and this sweater is a tangible piece of physical evidence that it is happening.

This wasn’t really why I started knitting, but then, when do we truly understand when we start to learn a thing how much we will really end up learning? This is the gift of creating. This is why the color green is really speaking to me right now.

This is why my sweater is like a plant, is like me. We are all creations. We are all works in progress.

Pattern: Nurtured Sweater by Drea Renee Knits / Yarn: Scout by Kelbourne Woolens

8 thoughts on “Works in progress

  1. Thanks for the mention, Rae! I love that line too, and I wholeheartedly think plants, especially Monsteras, are like people – you seem to have an especially unwieldy one like Monty. 🙂
    Your blog is just delightful, too!

  2. @houseplantjournal (Daryl) on Instagram may have some Monstera tips. He has a veritable jungle in his place and cares for a monster Monstera that he rescued and now lives and thrives in his church foyer I believe.

    It’s funny how learning new things and making mistakes is such a bigger deal once you’re older. When I feel intimidated (currently learning to knit myself) or frustrated by mistakes or slow progress, I try and take a page out of my youngest son’s book. He’s 3.5 and his whole world/day consists of learning new things, and he throws himself into it with wild abandon and a total lack of fear, and he’s surprisingly resilient to making mistakes and not letting that get him down. He also asks for help when he decides he needs it. I admire him for these traits, and remind myself to do as he does 🙂 (I make mistakes with that, too.)

    • Thanks for the plant IG tip, Mareike; I’ll have to look Daryl up.

      I am completely fascinated with the way that children learn new things vs the way adults learn new things. At some point along the way some of us (not all of us? and this includes children) decide that we are supposed to do it perfectly, immediately. The negative self-talk is introduced at some point, for some of us. There’s so much variance from person to person in this area, not just age. But anyway…I digress. Thanks for that reminder!! 🙂

  3. I was JUST looking st the pattern for this sweater before switching over to your website to look at the geranium. Great minds…

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