Those of you who follow us on Instagram (@amazedandbemused) may have seen the quilt I photographed at the Art Institute in Chicago, along with the Art Institute’s analysis that “quilt making… mirrors the construction of memory, which is pieced together from diverse experiences and often edited or embellished.” So true! Not that I’ve ever made a quilt…
What I did not post was that the quilt I photographed is a friendship quilt. It was made for Ella Maria Deacon in the 1800s, perhaps as a farewell gift of the eve of her marriage and ensuing move. It’s hard to see in the picture, but some squares even have embroidered messages such as “Remember Me.” I find these messages simultaneously heartbreaking and beautiful. To have friends love you enough to make such a gift, and yet to move so far away from them – I can definitely relate to this. Though communication over distances is infinitely easier in today's world, we are also a lot more mobile. This leads to a double-edged sword: more goodbyes, and more reunions.
This week I not only went to the Art Institute, but I also reflected on the fact that a reunion doesn’t have to happen in person. One thing you can do is pick up the phone and call a friend, even - gasp! - without texting first. I did that three times, with three different friends, this weekend, just because I felt like it. It’s kind of liberating and, as cheesy as this sounds, truly nourishing for the soul. I definitely don’t throw that phrase around lightly; I’ve tried to follow so much advice, including keeping a daily list of things I’m grateful for, and a lot of it I wouldn’t call soul-nourishing. (But if gratitude lists are your thing, by all means, you do you!)
For me, though, there’s something about the nuance of a phone conversation that really fills me up. I get a good sense of what’s going on in my friend’s life, on both a situational level (day-to-day activities) and a more emotional level, and hopefully they get the same from me. This connection helps bridge the distance between us, even if we only talk every few months. So if you have friends, long-distance or not, that you feel like calling, I definitely encourage you to do it. That’s my advice for the week. :)
Two more notes: 1) Another great way to connect with people and avoid texting is to send a handwritten letter. 2) But as soul-nourishing as phone calls and letters can be for me, I have to keep in mind the fact that if I think too much about them in advance, they become chores; burdensome lines on my to-do list. As my mother always says, if you worry about something too much before you do it, you’re doing it twice. So if you decide to take up the task of a making a phone call or writing a letter, my last advice is to bring joy and spontaneity into it. To paraphrase self-help guru Geneen Roth, whom I’ve mentioned before on this blog: I cannot meditate every morning (to use one example) if my main goal is to be a person who meditates every day. But if my main goal is to feel peace and joy, the motivation is easier to find.
Now it’s your turn; go find your joy!