Now that I am offline more often, it is interesting to rely on what I do know instead of “Googling” everything. My husband and I are realizing both that we have a deeper knowledge of natural topics than we perhaps gave ourselves credit for, and that we are heavily reliant on being able to look things up instantly. Gone are the leather-bound encyclopedias of our childhood; they have been replaced by technology that is not necessarily available everywhere. It is an interesting wrinkle and a topic of much discussion as we journey. Stripping away so much of our daily routines to the bare minimum has illuminated that much of what transpires in life isn’t a true necessity.
In the past when I have read about the idea of “samsara”, I have found different definitions. And since I don’t have references at hand at the moment, I am going to share the best brainstorming on the topic that my husband and I discussed as I wrote this post:
- Samsara is like purgatory: it is an intermediate level of being that doesn’t matter but that we (humans) wallow in.
- Samsara can be day to day life, but it does not have to be.
- Bureaucracy is the highest level of samsara.
What I really want to discuss is the fact that samsara can be day to day life, but it does not have to be. We all make choices. Some of us are privileged enough to choose to fulfill wants instead of needs. I think that as soon as we are operating outside of any direct need, we can choose to let samsara into our lives.
Really, this all goes back to the end of my last blog post about the Sparkler Mini Quilt and the tradeoffs in time that I have been making and noticing these past few weeks. My husband and I try to go for a walk at least once, if not twice each day. The cottonwood trees are blooming and I have been dedicating much time in my day to scraping the cottonwood seed sap off of my shoes so that I don’t track it into our truck, onto our entry ladder, and into our habitat. I actually wasn’t feeling as pouty as much as extremely silly when my husband captured the picture above. Instead of being annoyed by the time I was investing into cleaning my shoes, I was enjoying learning about what was causing wads of leaves to stick to my feet. I enjoyed being silly about my patented shoe cleaning device: “It might look like a simple stick, but flip it around and it’s a magic wand!” And I definitely prefer to spend a few minutes cleaning my shoes to cleaning up the interior of my cozy living environment from copious amounts of sticky grime.
So, what does this have to do with samsara? Well, I guess I am just realizing that samsara is a choice. It’s a choice about how I respond to something. It’s a choice about how I fill my days, the things that I say “yes” to and the things that I get stressed out about.
And what I’m finding is that I very much want to say yes to quilting in my life. Recently, the times I have carved out to cut fabric, or edit a quilt pattern, or sew a seam have been delightful. When I’ve ripped seams (I’ve been paper piecing: I always rip my basting seam to join sections at least once), I have delighted in the luxury of time to make my work a little bit better.
I have spoken about balance in life before, and I have enjoyed watching the scales of time tip, shift, and change over the years. This whole thought process also reminds me of a story that I am sure you have heard before, but was first introduced to me by Walter Odom, the engineering co-operative program and professional practices director at the University of Tennessee.
“Imagine that I have a large pitcher in front of me. I fill the pitcher with large rocks. Is the pitcher full? I have medium size pebbles; can they fit into the pitcher? If I pour slowly and shake the large pitcher, the medium pebbles nestle into the pitcher. Now is the pitcher full? I have small pebbles and in the same manner, I can add the pebbles to the pitcher. Now is the pitcher full? I have fine beach sand, and I can add sand to the pitcher until all the nooks and crannies are filled. Now is the pitcher full? I have water, and I can slowly add water. Now the pitcher is full.”
I have puzzled over the exact meaning of this story. Is it to choose wisely what large rocks fill my day? Is it to keep stretching and be as productive as possible, because there is still room for more to fit? I guess I am thinking that the reality might be that life continually shakes us up in one way or another and that the rocks, pebbles, sand, and water will shift and move. Perhaps life is more like the water flowing to fill the gaps.
Whenever I have been in the middle of a stressful activity or life event, I don’t know that someone suggesting to me to “try to see things differently” would have gone over well as a suggestion. But evaluating if I still want to say “yes” to an activity has always been a good place for me to start to find the change I have needed to stay afloat. May we all have the opportunity to say yes to things that make us happy and time to reflect and change should circumstance change.