Socks, Surprise, And SoulCollage®

First Socks

I finished knitting my first pair of socks last week. They are soft and warm and funky and I’m thrilled with how they turned out. I especially like the different colored toes.

I’m also surprised by how much I enjoyed making them, by how much I enjoyed learning to knit on the sock loom and working with yarn to make something hand-crafted and useful. My burst of excitement that started with reading C.B. Wentworth’s blog entry about knitting socks continues. Minutes after I worked in all the loose yarn ends on this pair of socks, I cast on stitches for the next pair.

The second pair of socks will be much easier. This time I understand how the sock loom works, and I know how to do the stitches. Plus, I’m using a plain knit-stitch and self-striping yarn, so after the first bit of ribbing, there won’t be any pattern stitches to count and remember. I suspect most people would start with a plain, easy sock for their first one. Not me. I seem to thrive on starting with a complex version and then once I know I can do it, relax into doing something easier.

I’m delighted with sock knitting showing up in my life. I never expected to be able to knit anything, let alone socks, or to so enjoy this way of creating. I didn’t expect that a sock loom would lead to new friends, to Wednesday evenings sharing wine with other knitting women in a yarn store, surrounded by laughter, luxurious colors and textures of yarn, and vibrant creativity.

This kind of surprise, the surprise of finding something that totally engages me completely out-of-the-blue, is a delight. Much of what I love to do, like traveling, weaving, playing the harp, and playing the recorder were long-held dreams that I was finally able to fulfill. Knitting socks is a total surprise. So was playing African drums. I hadn’t heard African drums played, hadn’t thought about playing drums, and didn’t know anything about them until accidentally finding myself at a drum circle. After five minutes of immersion in those deep, ancient rhythms, my heart said “I must do this for the rest of my life.” It was drumming that led me back to music, drumming that gave me courage to begin the harp. And it was my hands getting sore and having to stop drumming that opened up time and space and courage to join the recorder ensemble.

My delight with SoulCollage® is another accidental surprise. A friend invited me to her birthday party at Catherine Anderson’s studio. I made two SoulCollage® cards that March evening, and four years later, I am still making them, and still welcoming the teaching and the wisdom that the cards carry.

This month I am back in Catherine’s studio, taking her class Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary, based on Angeles Arrien’s book The Four-Fold Way. Last week we studied and created SoulCollage® cards inspired by the Teacher archetype. The way of the Teacher is to trust and to be open to outcome instead of being attached to outcome. My list of outcomes to which I stay firmly attached seems endless. Recurring items include being able to play my ensemble repertoires, being able to sight-read, and being able to perform with confidence and without shaking.

An aspect of the Teacher archetype is the Trickster, also known as The Fool, The Clown, The Court Jester, Hermes, Krishna, and Coyote across the world’s cultures. Catherine describes the Trickster archetype as:

“. . . a Teacher who shocks people into seeing their attachments and habitual patterns. Tricksters typically present surprises and the unexpected as a way of waking people out of their routines. Individuals who have difficulty with surprises or the unexpected have attachments, fixed perspectives, and a strong need for control. When we are attached, we often become controlling and rigid. The Trickster archetypes teaches us about detachment.”

Trickster energy ran rampant as I leafed through stacks of images for my SoulCollage® cards. Perhaps it was my desired outcomes connected to playing the music that lingers just beyond my competence that drew him to me. Three cards emerged, all with images and wisdom direct from the Trickster’s realm (click on a thumbnail to see the larger image):

The Happy Fool turns his back on the journey and lives in today. He holds a healthy disrespect for propriety and convention, and is unapologetic about disturbing the illusion of order. He tells me to live instead of think and plan, for he guarantees and promises that my well-thought-out plans will go awry.

No Sense stays balanced despite the lack of solid ground, and keeps pedaling forward into whatever happens next. She tells me to stop trying to make sense of things, that life is not reason-able, that I will never know or understand why things happen in this chaotic, unpredictable unfolding of being alive. She tells me, “You are not here to think and understand. You are here to live and experience.”

No Control valiantly steers his raft in the river of cosmic unfolding. He is a skilled oarsman and reads the rapids well. With help from his unseen companions, he keeps the raft upright. But he knows the limits of his efforts, knows that he will not bend the channel of the river to satisfy his desires. His survival depends on reading the currents and riding the waves, and on finding patches of quiet water where he can rest and gather strength. He tells me that I can’t fight cosmic currents, that I must ride the energy of life’s rushing waves, and steer as skillfully and ably as I can.

I need these messages and these messengers, need them more than I need the structure and routines that pretend to order my life. I need to look beyond the outcomes I grasp at, beyond the end points I think I must reach. I need to allow what is ready to germinate and grow head for the light. I need to leave room for the unexpected, need to be as open to the unthought, unplanned surprise of what emerges next with music, or with life, as I was with the sudden appearance of the irrepressible notion that I must knit socks.