Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Scene shifting

The tectonic plates of my life have shifted. I seem to no longer to be a part of things but a spectator.  Sure my life is full of busy, I attend classes, of the sort other retired people attend to learn something new, when in reality who am I kidding? I have begun to volunteer, at a local school and as an advisor at the citizens advice bureau. I see the occasional friend for coffee or lunch, even have people over for supper but I seem not to be engaged as others are but an onlooker, and generally only occasionally included in things by others out of habit.

Despite all this I am still spinning, sewing and knitting

Spun fibre, skeined, soaked, and wound ready for knitting (Death to MRSA and Broad Bean)

But while others have moved on (or simply kept moving) I can only watch and clutch at friends' and family's coat tails as they fly by living their busy lives.  One dear friend is even about to move even closer to the centre and I already feel the sadness of loosing her back to the life we once both enjoyed.  I was going to say happy, not busy, lives but I know this is not the way it is.  Everyone's life (if they are lucky) is filled with good and bad but it's stuff they feel, both the anxiety and the joy, the laughter and the sadness. Somehow it all just runs past my eyes these days like a reel of silent film.

Perhaps I'm turing into a Miss Marple type of woman (without the crime solving) an onlooker sitting in a corner, knitting.  My latest finished object is this sweater, my own work from fabulous fluff to jolly jersey, begun during the Tour de Fleece and finally finished a week ago

I can already see that that neckline is a little too wide

When the Off The Shoulder shape stretched and became a little more Down The Arm I had to pull a thread and add a bit more on top!

Thread pulled just below the knitted hem, two inches added and re hemmed, the neck now sits at my collar-bone

Is it possible to regain that sense of involvement once it's gone? Once one has retired from the salaried world, children grown, parents died and the buffer zone lost? There was a time I felt involved, present at people's tables, in the conversation of their lives because I was as essential as the person I sat next to. I shared my thoughts, feelings and opinions as much as that other person. Now I have moved to the margins of the lives of people I love, in danger of growing invisible, going out or taken out, literally or figuratively when it is thought I have not been included for a while then returned to my box. Like so many pictures in an art collector's basement, still notionally valuable but just not enough space for us all at once.

In all this I still make plans. This beautiful skein of brightly cashmere and alpaca sits on a side table as I consider what it will be

400 metres of heavenly softness - a big squishy cowl perhaps?
I accuse no one of unkindness but I just don't feel needed very much any more. I wonder if other women feel like this?  Did our mothers? I seem to have followed mine in taking up spinning, it's very time consuming, it it displacement activity?

Although I am still not sure that it will be worth continuing to spin some chocolate brown fleece from a small local flock of black Welsh mountain sheep. 

Perhaps I should stick to the glorious colours of porpoisefur fluff

Dark Lady on BFL

But what shall I do? I think these thoughts but have nowhere to express them (except on here). I fear that to do more than hint to family and friends will just burden them, perhaps lead some to consider whether they feel the same and be the cause of spoiling their peace too. Or do I flatter myself? Do I already bore and worse depress others, are they already holding me at arms length? Is it possible, not just to fill the time but to feel life again and perhaps make a new life without loosing the old? And yet, I have husband, children grand children, home, a few friends, more acquaintances, it's not that. I just need to find my place, I've lost it somehow

Will it pass I wonder?

I just don't know




Alison C said...

Hi Catherine
Very thought provoking, especially as I am currently 'hoping' to be in your situation in about 18 months' time. I have sometimes been more than a little envious of you over the past year or so, as you seem to be doing all the things I would like to be doing, but can't due to the fact I have to work for at least a while longer. I also know that there have been a couple of times when I thought about getting in touch, but decided not to, as you were clearly so busy and having so much fun.. I am not sure if I can contribute anything very meaningful to your reflection, but I am sure I will be interested in following it.
All the best, Alison C

Melinda Jackson said...

I'm looking forward to meeting you at Joeli's Retreat in Manchester in a few weeks' time. As far as involving myself in the community is concerned, I run a local knitting group in Accrington and find myself in demand! And I have a Knit-along going with a friend at the moment which tremendous fun as we have regular get-togethers. See you soon!

Simply Playing said...

Very thought provoking topic. I am not at your place in life, but I remember my Grandmother and now my father going through something similar. I think the unrest/detachment are in some way connected to our identities. Both my Grandmother and Father got lots of satisfaction and identity from their respective careers, and when that was over they were adrift, thrashing about for something to hang onto. My grandmother sadly did rather fade, but my father managed to find his footing through mentoring younger people and regular volunteer work. He also works really hard at engaging the people he ran into regularly at his gym, coffee shop, grocery store etc. in conversation. Sounds rather simplistic, but it really made him feel part of his community. I may be missing the mark entirely, but I wanted to help if I can.

Jennifer said...

Hi Catherine, your sweater is really beautiful. I wish I had advice for you. I'm not at the same point in life as you are, but I do know that I have always felt somewhat like an outsider. I don't know why, it's just part of who I am. I don't tend to find myself feeling comfortable in most social situations. I have always just had a couple of good friends, never a wide social circle. I know that when I had my first child, I lost some friends. I was the first to have a baby and they weren't ready for the slow-down I had to make in my life, I guess. I missed them but I realized that they were not being very supportive, so it was not such a big loss. I'm glad you're finding comfort and happiness in your hobbies, that is very important. I hope you continue to feel good about the way you're spending your time, because it's inspiring and admirable and you will be fine.

Mary Lou said...

Thought provoking, Catherine. I am still working, but have colleagues who are fearful of retiring and putting it off for the reasons you outline. One of the most poignant lines in a Child's Christmas in Wales always sticks in my head "some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers." Maybe as a childless woman that's a fear of mine. I expect that a creative and energetic person like you will muddle your way through this time of transition.

Amelia said...

Hello Catherine,

It was so lovely to meet you this weekend, and grab some pizza together. The knitting world is welcoming you and your talents with open arms! There is, some say, more to life than wool, but it is a very, very friendly and supportive community, with so much space for creativity. I hope that Kate's classes have inspired you, and I look forward to meeting you at more wool events -- and please get in touch when you are in London, and we'll have a trip to Wild and Woolly.
Amelia (woollenwords)