Late last spring when I left my job at a publishing house, I knew it was time for me to move on, but I didn't know where I wanted to go. I dreaded the inevitable question that people (almost everyone!) would ask when they found out I had quit my job. So, what are you going to do next? Even worse was their inevitable followup, which just felt like pressure: I'm sure whatever you do will be great.
My plans for the future were vague: Aside from freelance work that I had lined up to keep some income flowing, a two-week graphic design course, some family obligations, and an intention to spend more time in the garden, I didn't know what I wanted to do next. I just knew that I needed some time to be quiet and to let my mind wander. I knew that I had to have faith that wandering without knowing would lead me to a good place.
My wandering, as it turned out, included spending a lot of time making things by hand. I would call it therapy except that seems to imply that there was something wrong with me when I felt lost and, in fact, admitting I was lost was the most right part of what I was doing.
Aside from the stencil project that I wrote about here, which had a steep learning curve, most of the projects I chose were not too difficult to learn how to do, though they did require practice and patience. For example, I learned to use a strap cutter and a beveler to make leather bracelets and I inserted my first zipper when I hand-stitched Tyvec pouches. To my surprise, one of the most fulfilling projects was folding a paper box. Transforming a sheet of paper into a receptacle in which I could store something felt magical. It was so basic, almost primal. It was a skill that, like making my own clothing and growing my own vegetables (which give me great pleasure), could have helped me to survive if I had lived a very long time ago.
And that was it, I realize now: In my own way, I was seeking my own survival. I needed to stop focusing so intently on making a living and instead focus more fully on making a life. Even though I don't need to make my own clothing or boxes—or much of anything—these days to literally survive (keep breathing), I need that connection to feel whole, that is, to feel connected to my soul, to my community, and to the natural world around me. And, as a result of giving myself time to wander and to make, I no longer feel lost.
When I started this blog I wrote in the About section, "I decided to leave Abrams to explore new personal and professional possibilities. On this blog I am tracking my journey." And that is what I will continue to do. Because, as confusing as it can be sometimes and, as we all know but sometimes need to be reminded, the journey is the destination.