Connecting parts

Recently I have been thinking about the way I have this site organized, with Jung At Heart as an umbrella over both this knitting/everyday life blog and the section on my more professional interests and thoughts. And someone suggested to me that having them together undercut my professional presentation.

This brought to mind a quote from Marie Louise von Franz on knitting that I have cited here before:

Everybody who has knitted or done weaving or embroidery knows what an agreeable effect this can have, for you can be quiet and lazy and also spin your own thoughts while working. You can relax and follow your fantasy and then get up and say you have done something! Also the work exercises patience...Only those who have done such work know of all the catastrophes which can happen -- such as losing a row of stitches just when you are decreasing! It is a very self-educative activity and brings out feminine nature. It is immensely important for women to do such work and not give it up in the modern rush. (The Feminine in Fairy Tales, Spring Publications, 1972, p. 40)

So I thought about it all for a good while and even considered briefly taking this part down, but the thought of that made me sad. So I thought some more. And talked with some friends. One of my friends sent me this poem:

Vision begins to happen in such a life
as if a woman quietly walked away
from the argument and jargon in a room
and sitting down in the kitchen, began turning in her lap
bits of yarn, calico and velvet scraps,
laying them out absently on the scrubbed boards
in the lamplight, with small rainbow-colored shells
sent in cotton-wool from somewhere far away,
and skeins of milkweed from the nearest meadow —
original domestic silk, the finest findings —
and the darkblue petal of the petunia,
amid the dry darkbrown lace of seaweed;
not forgotten either, the shed silver
whisker of the cat, 
the spiral of paper-wasp-nest curling
beside the finch’s yellow feather.
Such a composition has nothing to do with eternity,
the striving for greatness, brilliance —
only with the musing of a mind
one with her body, experienced fingers quietly pushing
dark against bright, silk against roughness,
pulling the tenets of a life together
with no mere will to mastery,
only care for the many-lived, unending
forms in which she finds herself,
becoming now the shard of broken glass
slicing light in a corner, dangerous
to flesh, now the plentiful, soft leaf
that wrapped round the throbbing finger, soothes the wound;
and now the stone foundation, rockshelf further
forming underneath everything that grows.

—Adrienne Rich
“Transcendental Etude,” 
in The Dream of a Common Language, 1978

I love the poem and it helped me to see that, though this juxtaposition is uncommon, the way this blog is set up is just right for me. It is about me and how I understand my work and my life. My office is at home, in the middle of my domestic life. I have a basket of yarn in my office -- because I think it is beautiful. I also have there a couple of throws that I knit. I have a tea kettle and offer tea. I used to fantasize having a house that had a big kitchen with a fireplace and I would see my patients there, in front of the fire, sitting at the table and drinking tea. Because for me the kitchen is the place of transformation. So this homey part of my blog, with photos, posts about knitting, recipes and everyday life, is where I locate my work, even the serious part of my work. It’s feminine, it’s me and it belongs. There are things in my professional life that I want to explore more deeply. But those things have grown out of ordinary life -- aging, figuring out what it is to be a woman, working at my story, divorce, all of it. 

When I was in my 20's, in the heydays of second wave feminism, I always felt I had to hide my interest in things domestic. To acknowledge having a domestic life -- cooking, knitting and the like -- was all but a betrayal of what we women were striving for: to be taken seriously as thinkers and doers and not be only relegated to hearth and home. I don't think my friends in graduate school then even knew I loved to cook or that I knitted and crocheted and sewed. And when I got married, it was a point of honor that I do half of the work around the house and not a bit more. 

But that was then. And in the course of growing older and growing up more, I seem to have lost that need to split my life as I did. Maybe this is the gift of third wave feminism to women like me -- that we can bring the parts of our lives together. And in mending the splits in our lives, perhaps we can move toward mending  splits in our husband's and son's lives as well.

As Jung said,

Individuation means becoming an "in-dividual," and, in so far as "individuality" embraces our innermost, last and most incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one's own self. We could therefore translate individuation as "coming to selfhood" or "self-realization." (C.G. Jung, CW 7, para. 266)

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.