Recently, I’ve been thinking about fairy tales. Beautiful princesses, evil witches and trolls, handsome princes, dragons, impossible tasks, and the like.
You know how, as our lives get increasingly complex, it is possible to maintain two entirely fixed beliefs in your head at the same time? Somehow, I had the idea that I was going to go to a meeting Friday out in Eastern PA, and also that next weekend I was staying home because my husband was away Thursday – Saturday and someone would have to take care of the animals. The problem was that “Friday” and “next weekend” never resolved themselves into the same entity, until my husband questioned me further.
I do this a lot, unfortunately: maintain two conflicting beliefs at the same time, until someone else points out the inconsistency.
But sometimes it’s good to have a “flexible” mind like this, right? While working on my current rug, I’ve decided that it would be good to frame my own life as a fairy tale.
While this belief is clearly inconsistent with reality – I am not a beautiful princess and my home is definitely not a turreted castle and where, oh where, are my maids and servants? – but why not live in a fairy tale…. simultaneously with living in our strident reality? Don’t we all deserve to be a beautiful princess? And while, due to a recent irritation, at the moment my husband is more frog in my mind …. don’t we all deserve a handsome prince? Or a heroic, chain maille clad, dragon-slaying knight, at the very least?
And I’m sure we all have a few colleagues and neighbors or in-laws who could easily fulfill the ogre or troll category, with a scattering of evil witches. While we’re at it let’s put a few of our most disliked political figures off into an adjacent country. (I won’t let them live in MY country, so they have to live elsewhere… although I could think about a beheading, purely to entertain the masses).
Hmm, if it’s my own country, maybe I’ll make myself a Queen rather than a princess, and my husband can be my prince consort. I’d be much better at ruling a fairy tale land than he would.
This is the sort of thing that I think about while I’m working on my current rug.
One of the problems and one of the blessings of making a large braided rug is that you have time for contemplation and reflection. Although I often fill the time while my hands are braiding with a sci-fi or thriller audiobook, I sometimes enjoy the silence and peace that allow your thoughts to spin and your mind to meditate.
Isn’t this quiet time, really, the time for rest and repair of our own psyches?
People often ask me, “how did you get into rug braiding?” And I often reply that I had a stressful job and I needed a creative outlet to keep my sanity. I strongly believe that the repetitive tasks inherent in a lot of textile arts are necessary for mending our mental outlook and getting us through difficult times. Rug braiding, especially as you get out into those larger outer rows, has a lot of straight braiding and regular lacing, where your mind doesn’t have to be actively engaged in the repetitive processes.
This is the time, when the house is quiet, and your hands are busy, and no one is interrupting you yet, to create your own simultaneous belief system. There is Reality, yes, but for the moment, it is through a mirror, or on the other side of a wardrobe, or at least at the edge of your kingdom’s (queendom’s?) property line. You live in a vast fortress in the woods, with magical songbirds and flowers and greenery, and a lake upon which to sail in swan-shaped boats. Your kingdom has peace, and prosperity, and beauty, and you have armies of sufficient power and fierceness to defeat the witches, trolls, and ogres that occasionally beset your castle. You have serenity, and power, and peace.
Here is my current rug (above, top), which has some links to the Sleeping Beauty (aka “Briar Rose”) fairy tale. The 2-braid square spiral at the center is a labyrinth, a puzzle, a predicament. At the same time, I can see it as a geometric rose in the Mission style of decoration. It is surrounded by caverns of darkness: the enlarging and narrowing swells of black just outside the labyrinth. The pattern in the outer braided rows is a wall of briars, as in the impenetrable thicket of thorns that surrounded the castle with the sleeping princess. Next I’m going to work on creating either larger thorns or dragon’s teeth, with some sort of fiery entrance to the path…maybe. I’m calling it “Path of the Handsome Prince” or something like that.
I think I’ll stay in my kingdom for the rest of the day today, and let the outer Reality eat dragon’s breath.