Cold outside, beautiful light streaming in the windows onto my bead table/sewing table. It's a lovely old thing with a wooden top and cast iron legs. It used to be a two person desk in a schoolroom. It has old carved and written words on it, and glue I've spilled on it, and my grandmother's pincushion, and a complicated mess of beads and potential projects and needles for almost any kind of beading or sewing project you can think of. Yesterday I sat down in this lovely spot to work on some mending.
Mending is very satisfying work for me. You take something that is basically good that needs some small (or large) repair and make it usable again. Yesterday I worked on my daughter's jeans (third time for this - I am now to the point of patching patches, but they are still going strong), a pocket area rip in my husband's suit pants, the hem on a bathmat I can't bear to part with, some socks with cats on them, some reusable grocery bags that just had little rips that I didn't want to see get bigger, and my old brown backpack that I bought in 1979 when I gave up my car and decided to carry everything myself.
The backpack used to have a label that said "Dolt" on it, which I thought was funny. Nice archaic word that as a teacher I thought I should endeavor to transcend, as in "I may be a dolt but I work hard to overcome it." With the hidden message, "and you can, too." And we are all dolts at some things. The backpack became the picnic basket, toy holder and diaper bag when the kids were young. It went on many adventures. And now, with its newly repaired seam and some trimming where the fiber was unraveling inside the bag, it is ready for more. Maybe a farewell visit to Tai Shan, the born in DC Zoo panda who is now 4 and who has to return to China soon.
Mending things is something I've done all my life. Now it seems either quaint (who knows how to hand sew now?) or incredibly hip (the green alternative to buying new stuff.) It can lead to a basement full of things to be repaired, but it can also reinforce the "use it up, wear it out, make do or do without" attitude, which requires a lot of "make do" to be successful.
Having had enough money to have some flexible funds for playing (buying yarn, music equipment, lunches out) I am now in the position of having to be more conservative with my spending. I don't anticipate it being difficult since I've lived on very little at various times in my life, and I'm confident that I can do it again. But being able to mend things should help the process. How wonderful to have the time to do it!
Of course, I am also mending myself. With age, you have to do more maintenance that you do when you are young. And working in a highly stressful environment, especially the last 3 1/2 years, was taking its toll. It made sense to stay working long enough to retire, but there were costs. The good news is that I am sleeping better than I have in years, and some other annoying health things are getting attention and improving.
If I apply "use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without" to myself, I guess I am working on the first three objectives. I want to use up every last bit of life experience that I can. When I am worn out, I will make do (for more experience, and hopefully more learning in the process). And when the time comes, I will let go of this life and "do without". I am not going to surrender to inertia and start dying while I am still alive. But anyone who knows me can tell you that - I'm pretty engaged in whatever comes along.
Right now, I am mending.