I’m revising both a book and my knitting these days, yanking apart for the fourth time the same skein of yarn. At some not-too-distant unraveling, this lovely yarn may disintegrate. Isn’t revision one of the great beauties of knitting? Unlike in my own life, I can re-do, refashion, re-envision. That’s a gift in writing, too, that the writer cannot use in her own life.
I keep returning to that Aristotelian word teleology from my undergraduate philosophy days. What is the purpose of this ball of yarn? How can I aid that lovely azure linen to achieve its intended purpose? What is the purpose of the book I’m writing, and how do all these pieces within help achieve that end?
Here’s the faith aspect: I’ll find the proper gauge and use for this yarn. The writing will clear. And what cannot be undone in a human life is an intrinsic part of the whole.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
Marge Piercy “To Be of Use”