Today, I gave myself a present: today.
The stars had aligned in a perfect setup. The Beloved Husband would be out with a friend for hours. I’d already rescheduled with the nephew in grad school because, in the current heatwave, the trip would’ve become torture. Now damn near giddy with possibility, I canceled a morning meeting. Suddenly, I found myself with the most precious non-renewable resource known to knitterkind: time.
I am not the busiest person alive, yet somehow each day feels like someone slipped me the cheaper, 12-hour version instead of the economy-sized 24. I have given up on the idea of the “to do” list ever being done; it should just be on a large, continuous roll of paper. I have work to do. I have classes to teach, classes to take, and a cache of online classes I’ve started but never finished because when? When? And I keep buying those online classes, even though I know they, too, will likely gather virtual dust.
Recently, I read (in the vast library known as Somewhere) the real reason people buy new books before they’ve finished the ones they have: It’s because buying books creates the illusion—the fantasy, if not the reality—of having the time to read those books. Whenever I buy a new book, which, according to my nearly-worn-smooth credit card, is often, I have a vision of being that person curled up with said book as I wear a pair of homemade socks, my purring cat by my side, something lovely to drink on the nearby table, lighting perfect, smooth jazz on low … (When you get to a certain age, fantasies about having time to read books replace fantasies about George Clooney. And I know that’s not just me.)
Knitters know the value of time. Anyone who has laughed until tears fell from their eyes when a well-meaning person asked, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy a sweater?” knows that time is as precious as a sale on limited-edition fingering. The things we make, no matter how fast we may stitch, take time. And the time we spend making them is gold to us.
Our handmades hold time in knitterly measures. The time spent knitting between appointments. The time spent knitting away anxious nerves in the hospital waiting room. The time that can’t go fast enough before that precious baby arrives. The time spent figuring out a new pattern, only to figure out then that the. Count. Is. OFF. The time spent frogging, and the moment of patting oneself on the back for being willing to start again. (And, in my case, again and again.)
What to do when there’s not enough time? I’ve relieved myself of the burden of trying to be some sort of expert on time management. When I was the person who wrote magazine headlines like “Ten Tips on Saving Time!” I was never actually able to use any of those tips, being constantly up against tight deadlines.
Whatever amount of time you have, this knitting meditation, like something loosely woven, can expand to fit the space you have for it. This is best done with a very simple project that doesn’t require referring to a pattern.
- Sit in a chair that allows you to be comfortable and upright, rather than curved into a squishy seat. Sitting tall creates more space for your breathing.
- Close your eyes and take three deep breaths, inhaling through your nose, exhaling slowly through your mouth (as though blowing softly on warm food).
- Let your body return to its natural breathing pattern. Gently open your eyes. Pick up your project and, going a bit more slowly than your usual rhythm, knit a few stitches. Bring your awareness to the spaces between your inhalations and exhalations, and the spaces between each stitch. Think of these spaces as pockets of time; when we bring our full awareness to these “moments,” they can expand.
- Bring your meditation to a close whenever you need or want to with three deep breaths.
Knitting is an activity with time built into it; it takes up so much, yet it gives us back twice, three times what we put into it. It’s meditative, it’s satisfying—and it is worth our time. Knitting is an understanding friend, waiting patiently, rewarding us for whatever time we can put into it.
Did I mention, in my list of All the Things, the bag of UFOs in my living room? I’ve gifted myself with this day. Now I get to spend time with time well spent.