Saturday, March 10, 2012

Acceptance Happens With The Head Held Up

Today, with a to-do list miles long, I began with my laundry. By the time I'd finished hanging it on the line, I had to run hot water over my fingers to thaw them. 

Even though my fingers were growing numb, I actually did take down a couple pieces and change them with others, because I enjoy the adjacent and occasionally dissonant harmonies of greens. How much would I leave to chance, how much tonal variation in the intervals? On a Saturday, and when time can allow, every action might be as a breath on a flame, and hanging laundry is not so unlike painting or singing.

I came in and warmed my fingers and sat down to read the chapter in The Poet's Freedom headed "Praising." Susan Stewart begins by discussing creation myths and human making, alluding to the Hebrew scripture, and the image of the supreme maker setting out on his task of creating the world, and calling each thing "good." She goes on to say
"The integrity of the thing is not a self-evident aspect of its form but rather a quality discerned at some aesthetic distance; completion is therefore determined, not simply reached as a point of arrival."

I enjoyed that observation, but became sidetracked by an undercurrent of thought I'd been having about human fallibility. A friend had mentioned that she'd seen an imperfection in one of her pieces. We talked a bit about imperfection, how I'd heard that medieval craftsmen had intentionally planned imperfection into their work, so not to appear to have the hubris to try to compete with their God.

But if there were a god to make us, and look on us and call us "good," then that god had to also be far from perfect, or at least to have imperfect judgment about the outcome of the work. Maybe this is how the creation myth came to assert that we humans were made in the image of god -- because of our shared imperfections? I'd never looked at it this way before, I can't remember how it was taught to me by the nuns who were my elementary school teachers.

I didn't get very far on my to-do list today. But when I was carrying out my laundry, I called the bluebirds, and instantly heard their twittering, and saw them swoop over to my house. Clearly these are same bluebirds I had last year and maybe the year before, since they know my call means I've brought them worms. I'm as near as they need me to be to perfection.


  1. Your laundry is beautiful: all those greens! do you also have a red day and a blue day? And how perfect, if such a thing can be, to have the day enhanced by bluebirds.

    1. If the laundry piles up for long enough, and depending on what colors I've been favoring when I dress, I can have a day of reds and browns, or blacks, greys and violets. I do it for the sake of seeing the hanging together outdoors. I've always loved the sight of fabric hanging outside to dry.


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