Memory Thread

I’ve been sick this week. I have a cold that won’t quit, despite liberal dosing with over-the-counter meds. The cold has to run its course — there’s no cure except time and plenty of fluids. So I wait. I spend a bit of time frustrated that I’m sick with so much to do. Then I surrender, lying on the couch for an afternoon nap.

Soon I’m shuffling around the house feeling sorry for myself and having long conversations with my dogs. It’s not long before this sloth irritates me so much that I find something to do. I may not be well enough to teach, but I need to occupy my brain. I’ve had a sewing project in mind for Yoga Nook @ Fifth, so I set up my sewing machine and pull out a large hat box full of thread.

The women in my family all have giant receptacles for thread, buttons, ribbon and notions. We are all fixers, menders and creators, and as a child I would spend hours organizing my sister’s coveted sewing box. It was like a time capsule with samples of fabric, thread in all the colors of the rainbow and every type of fastening imaginable, including some spare stocking hold-ups to repair old garter belts.

I smile as I open my own treasure box and run my fingers through the textures and colors of past projects — buttons from old sweaters and coats, glass beads and thread. I must have over a hundred spools of thread, and the one that’s just the right shade of purple used to belong to my mother. My mind is drawn to her with this spool of thread. It winds back a lifetime of over 40 years to a little girl’s bedroom and purple floral drapes (it was 1970, after all).

My mother was poorly educated — a result of poverty, war and low expectations — but she was very creative. She made dresses and skirts, coats and blouses, as well as drapes and home furnishings. If she thought she could sew it, she would. Look in the Wiktionary under “make a silk purse of a sow’s ear,” and there’s a picture of my mother at her sewing machine. My sister and I were both genetically predisposed to sewing, and my dolls were the best-dressed in the neighborhood.

In the ancient language of Sanskrit, the word “sutra” means string or thread, which can also be translated as a string of consciousness or thought. In Yoga, the sutras are a set of 196 terse statements that guide the yoga student towards enlightenment. As I start to unwind the spool of purple thread, I’m struck by the literality of it all, and I think I see just a flash of insight.


Image credit: Marcy Leigh via Flickr (CC)

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3 thoughts on “Memory Thread”

  1. Jenny, I want you to know how much I appreciate all your blogs. I don’t respond a lot but I really look forward to them and they certainly make me think. Thank tou so much for spending the time to write them.
    On another note, I hope you know how much I enjoy the classes you teach. They are absolutely the best. I ALWAYS feel good after them, but what is more important is that I always learn something new to apply to my practice. These are things that I remember too. Thank you so much. I love you for who you are, what you have done to make yoga wonderful and ever changing for me, and how you have evolved since I have know you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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