Familiarity…..

I was asked about a month ago “Why do you watch movies over again that you have already watched?” I know that the question was meant in jest, but it also made me think. I find comfort in watching TV shows and movies that I have seen already. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to watch something new, but sometimes I want that blanket of “I know what is going to happen” and that security in confidence in the outcome.

Now some of that – yes, it can be compared with several other activities in life. For myself – it happens in my yoga practice, and in my quilting endeavors.

One of the movies that I have watched several times over this past winter is called “New in Town.” It features Renée Zelweger and Harry Connick Jr. The “Cole’s Notes” version of the storyline is a Miami businesswoman coming to a small Minnesota town to manage the local manufacturing plant, and how she settles into that life. Total romantic comedy. I have seen it several times. I PVR’d it so I could watch it again. I will admit – not an Emmy award winning movie, nor did the ratings come back as a “must see” when the movie was out in the theatres. Part of the movie’s charm for me is the familiarity of a northern winter (the movie was actually filmed partially in Manitoba), and the small town feel. Everyone knows everyone else. It resembles in some way the small town that I grew up by, and went to school in.

Watching the movie is kind of like being enveloped by a familiar blanket. It also allows me to drift in and out of paying attention, and having something on in the background while I am focussing on a task.

I find this need for a “security blanket” at times. To me I compare it to going to a yoga class with a familiar instructor. You know the basic practice that the teacher will guide you through. I can lose myself to being present and just following the instruction provided. I don’t have to worry about what pose comes next. And, I know that it is for a specified duration, and it gives me reassurance.

I find the same thing in my quilting journey. I don’t often make a quilt pattern more than once. And, I oscillate between my own design and following another’s pattern. Following someone else’s instruction enables me to focus on my technique. I know that the path to quilt completion has been “somewhat” laid out for me within the instructions on the page laying before me. It is up to me how I really choose to execute, but I can kind of meander along the path at my own pace, knowing that any turns in the path will be guided along through the words and illustrations provided.

When I embark on the more challenging journey – that of designing and producing something of my own creation – I have many more decisions to make. And, most of them do not guarantee a successful outcome. I have done challenge quilts (one of which I am currently trying to get completed while working full time, and putting a number of other self-imposed obstacles in my path), I have designed quilts as a result of art class instruction, and have also produced originals as gifts and commissions. One thing is common – I put myself in a much more “uncomfortable” position of not knowing the exact path the end result will take. My zone of security is not available. The starting point can be ascertained, but what the finale will be is sometimes a little more “fuzzy around the edges”.

However, in undergoing the process of my own design, I actually end up expanding my area of contentment. I believe we each do this with each situation we enter not knowing the outcome – the result is we make it through with our wealth of experience a bit larger. Now maybe that is taking it a little too far in going from watching a movie that we have seen several times, and comparing it to the creative process, but I think there is a level of putting yourself out there that we all need to do to grow.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” C.S. Lewis

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