The Art of Craft
In our modern, fast-paced world, sometimes we don't know the source of our stress. Technology can be a blessing and a curse. It has so many useful applications, but it still distances us from the raw nature of our lives. I find the antidote to many of life's troubles in something similar as my grandfather did: through work with my two hands.
I come from a long line of down-to-earth, resourceful people I am proud to call my family. My grandfather, Maurice Hughes, became a farmer mostly through necessity, dropping out of college to help support the family during the Great Depression. After he and my grandmother Theone were married, they sat on orange crates at the table. My mother likes to say that there was nothing my grandpa couldn't fix with a bit baler twine and ingenuity. I seem to have inherited this predisposition, sometimes to a fault - I remember once fixing the buckle on my beloved electric blue stacked heel jelly sandals (don't ask) with a bit of paper clip when I was sixteen. My grandmother broke all kinds of stereotypes: a literature professor, and a staunch feminist before her time, she was still all about fashion, and she also liked to sew. My first good sewing machine belonged to her - it was an inheritance my grandfather sent me some time after she passed away. Since that time I have created memories with it, decorating my home, making clothes to wear to special occasions, and things to give as gifts.
Creating, whether it be by drawing, painting, sewing, making a piece of jewelry, or any other act of creativity, is not merely a hobby. It is a connection to our roots. When I make a piece of clothing, I value it much more than something I bought at a store. It is one of a kind, and it is something I worked for in the true sense of the word. There is something about working with the hands that is meditative and transformative. In the transience of the changing nature of our lives, creating something tangible is deeply rewarding - and for me, I somehow feel like I enter more deeply into my physical, living, breathing self when I do so. There is something calming, something resonant of the memory of extended family crowded around the tiny kitchen table in my grandparents' farmhouse, laughing together over breakfast, then smelling the dirt of the cornfields and chasing fireflies after dark.
Stress, to me, isn't about having too much to do. It's about having a conflict in our beings about what is important, and feeling disconnected from our true selves, from truly living. What is the antidote to this stress? That's a decision every person has to make. But I know this: when I create, I become my deepest self. I feel more joy, and I feel more alive. And that is always a good thing.
You can create, too!