“We love the things we love for what they are…” –Robert Frost
Greetings Dear Friends,
Cricket season has arrived. As I go about my morning livestock chores, they dive outwards beyond the toes of my boots shooshing through the waves of grassy morning dew like tiny black dolphins before the prows of ships. I am both delighted and sorrowful to see them. I know they are here, once more, to sing Summer’s Lullabye. They herald Change. For one whose entire focus, eight hours a day, is on making good Changes happen for other people and their clothing, I have to admit this secret: I don’t love Change. Sometimes I want things to stay exactly Just The Way They Are, frozen in golden sunlight.
A bride brings in a dress she “just LOVES” but she wants the entire neckline and all the beaded mesh (which is lovely and modest) removed. She wants her bare cleavage to bulge up more. She wants the thigh area of this A-line skirt taken in very snugly to create a mermaid sillouette that simultaneously shows off her voluptuous bummage and requires that she not sit down at all, ever, during her reception. She needs lace taken off here and beading added there and Way More Bling. Can’t have enough Bling to suit her. She is the type of customer who brings a Volkswagon to a mechanic, hoping she can tinker with it until it turns into a Ferrari.
I work on this gown, which I have dubbed the “vampire gown” with considerable (and humbling) bitterness. This thing seeks my blood. I have stabbed my hands repeatedly with the thread-ripper and pins—each time running for the super glue to seal the leak before I accidentally stain the ivory silk. The biggest wound comes as I am reapplying six yards of lace to the bottom of the hem and my index finger is unexpectedly bitten by the downward driving needle of the sewing machine. Without thinking, I yank my hand back and tear the flesh from the tip of the finger. No amount of sucking or gluing is going to stop staining the Kleenex red. The other seamstresses are cringing and expressing commiserating winces. These “bites” happen rarely but they hurt. It’s a savage little reminder to Pay Attention. Things can change without warning.
While I wait for this fresh leak to stop, I bind my finger in a piece of linen and wait on other customers. A young woman comes in to collect her gown—a simple wedding gown she is wearing on a beach this weekend. She tries it on, looking radiant and glowing. “I can’t see a single thing you did to this!” she exclaims. “It looks as if this is exactly how it came from the shop!” She cannot contain her surprise and delight. This leads one of the other seamstresses to comment under her breath, “honey, did you WANT it to look like crap? That’s why you came here. We’re Professionals! That means you’re not Supposed to see what we do!” I know they take umbrage when customers are surprised that the work is good. I think it’s fantastic. I love it. It pleases me no end to “see no change.” I prefer when things are better by pure, invisible Magic—when we can forget the Effort.
The next man in has three pairs of pants showing signs of severe waistband fatigue. He pats his stomach and grins. “The summer grilling season has been too much for me,” he says. “You can tell—I ain’t been eatin’ salads. Can you let these out a touch? And by a touch, I mean as far as they can go? They’re my thin pants. I can bear to switch to the fat pants yet.” We all nod understandingly. This is the same man who comes in February, after six weeks’ worth of New Year’s Austerity Measures and has us take everything in. I look at the exhausted pants. I know them well. They go out and in so often, they might come back as accordions in their next life. I think about Heraclitus, the Greek Philosopher who said “you cannot step twice in the same river.” This man does not sit twice in the same pants—Change is the only Constant in his wardrobe.
Change is a Constant in Fashion too. No sooner do we get all the men happily wearing pleated fronts and cuffs that catch everything from dust or falling Doritos to dog hair, then the fashion pendulum swings the other way and we taper their trousers until they are tourniquets. Pleats are OUT, flat fronts are In. May every bald or hairy ankle reveal its true glory to the world! Doritos will just have to land where they must. With women, it’s waistlines. No sooner have we got everyone shifted into low-rise jeans that show off the hint of bum crack and thong (so that we can all resemble plumbers mending a loo), then the tide rises and we go back to having high waists at our ribs. Muffin tops are out; bums that climb half way up your back are in. They say you can tell how old toddlers are by what they can do. I say you can tell how old their mothers are by where they have gotten off the fashion wagon. To the trained eye, waistlines are as easy to read as sedimentary layers of rock. The hairstyle is just confirmation.
Some of us think we crave Change. Only, we don’t. I had a man tell me he had such long arms that he had never ever in his whole life had a shirt fit him correctly. So I made him a custom shirt with extra long arms. When he tried it on, they came exactly to the right point on his wrist. The new sensation of something hanging to his hand drove him crazy. He hated it! He came in again and again asking me to take the sleeves up “just a bit.” After three times, they were at the same length of all his other sleeves! We think that having something “fit us better” would be A Good Thing—but sometimes it is too uncomfortable to live with. We prefer what we are used to. This is the premise behind Alain de Botton’s TED talk: “Why you will Marry The Wrong Person.” We like what is familiar, even if it is bad for us.
Other times, we feel stuck without change. We are enlivened and stimulated by possibilities and Choices that give our Free Will room to choose new trends, new shoes, new handbags in an endless variety of shades from vermillion to vomit. We need to clean out the Old and replace it with New. For no Good reason except that Novelty stimulates out economy. Mostly, we like the changes we choose, and if we don’t, we are always free to choose again! The changes we dislike most are the ones we cannot Choose—the changes that require us to rewrite our agreements with Reality.
Back at home, a cricket hops into my bandaged fingers. We stare at each other intently for a long while. These crickets are not the same crickets as last year, though they are identical and serve the same Muse. Essayist/Poet George Santayana reminds us that “Repetition is the only form of permanence that Nature can achieve.” They teem in the grass around my home. For now, in this golden moment, this individual is not Anonymous. I think that is the essence of Love—that I have Known One.
These crickets are here to sing us through the change of Seasons using the songs passed down by their ancestors as each generation replaces itself. I leave all the windows open so that they can sing me to sleep along with Summer. Tears leak into my pillow at the death of one of my horrible little dogs, whom I love so dearly, and the recent transition of a friend, who has left her place in earth’s choir and gone to Heaven’s instead. I can still hear her laughter; I can still feel her spirit; but I cannot hug her ever again and that makes me deeply sad. Another Love is having serious health problems… I am fearful and indignant about what these Changes require of my soul. I have No wish to rewrite suddenly my agreements with Reality. I have gotten used to the way I like things and vice versa.
The seasons are about to change and so are we all. We will change our clothing—haul out sweaters and jeans to replace shorts and T-shirts—and begin the process of defining through colors and textures, tweeds and twills, who we shall Be until the hard frosts come. Can we change our hearts as well? Can we breathe through the struggles to open the windows of our hot minds? Can we reach Lovingly towards all that is Becoming and relinquish Gracefully all that went before? (I might have to kick and scream just a little.) I listen to the fresh batch of crickets in the dark. Do they know what became of last year’s crickets? Is that why they sing? The only thing that comforts me in times like this is the Joy of what I still have: Gratitude for what Is and ever Shall be. Change is not the only constant—Love is.
This, and Pumpkin Lattes are on their way back!!! Woo hoo!
Much love to you all, Dear Ones. Be Well! Thank you for your Good Work!