Earlier today, I posted a picture on Facebook of the Feathered Star block I’m working on. The Feathered Star is to quilt blocks as the triple salchow is to figure skaters: complicated, with potential for bloodshed. I’m going about the beast using a paper-piecing method. There are triangles that measure an inch finished. There are set-in seams. I worked hours on my block and it’s still not quilte done (or correct.) The first block of any new quilt is the one that takes longest, but in the case of the Feathered Star, I highly doubt I will hit a “stride.”
So why do it? Why do anything that is hard? Why move to New York City? Why consider career changes? Why take a risk on love? Why get highlights? Who cares?
Because if you can, you must.
I maneuver through the world all too aware of the clear and present danger of death. I am arguably obsessed with death, obsessed with human life’s stunted growth; angry, really, that one day the janitor will turn out the lights and lock up. I think of death every day, sometimes several times a day. My thoughts of death are so woven into my consciousness, I’m sure most of the time, I don’t realize I’m thinking of it at all — but I am. Constantly. Death informs most of my decisions.
Let me be perfectly clear: it’s not fear of the other side. That’s not my problem. It’s the end of this. The end of the grand pageant. All the color, the pain, the love and lovemaking, the children, the travel, the failures — all the muck, mire, and glory of a life, however long or short, gets me every time. Every human life is full of suffering; I know about that. I’ve had needles stuck in to my abdomen while I was awake and I still love it here. I miss Chicago every day and I don’t know what the next few months will bring for my health, my heart, or my hair. I mean, I change my hair all the time. Anything could happen.
The love of being alive is concomitant with my fear of death. They are two sides pulling the same rope; we have a sick equilibrium, here. Adoring life leads to rage; rage that the experience I happen to love has to end. I’m like an eight-year old at the best slumber party ever and my mom just called to say she’s coming to get me in 30 minutes. Why? Because she said so, that’s why. I throw wild, hysterical fits but it does nothing. Mom’s on her way. Get your coat on.
So I have to make the Feathered Star. If I can, I must. And I have to come to New York. Because if I can, I must. I must fall in love. I must try. I must say yes, because if I can… You get the picture.
A friend of mine said recently, “I’m out of the advice business.” I never got into it, but I’ll stick my neck out this one time: If you can, you must. There is not another go-round. This is not a warm-up. Grab it. Make the hard quilt block. Kiss the boy. Finish the job.
It’s never too late until it is.