Stopping To Think
Every frame of the recently aired television production of Hilary Mantel’s, Wolf Hall, was magnificent; I cannot recommend it highly enough. But one scene in particular has stayed with me. It occurs when Cromwell is wandering the netherworld of fever dreams. His beautiful dead wife is suddenly sitting beside him on the bed in a shaft of morning light, her hands moving, fast and fluid, as she weaves. “Stop”, Cromwell says. “Show me how you do it.” Never looking up, his wife replies, “If I stop to think how I’m doing it, I won’t be able to do it.”
So much meaning in that one statement, at least for me. In turning it over in my head I’ve begun to see the many feats I perform on autopilot. Cooking. Knitting. Occasionally, driving… God help me. So for the past few days I have decelerated and considered every single moment in an attempt to give each the attention a good life deserves.
I’ve slowed my knitting to better enjoy how the pattern forms beneath my fingers and I’ve turned off the radio and television to knit in the quiet. Before I even taste the sweetness of the strawberry, I’ve stopped to admire the brilliance of its redness. I’ve put down the newspaper to watch a robin in the birdbath as she splashes about in exhilarating dance, noticing how she dips her head beneath the water before every splash. I’ve watched as she cleans her orange beak on the side of the bath when she’s done. One side, then the other. Rapid fire. I’ve delighted in the crisp coolness of freshly laundered linen as I slip between the sheets at bedtime. I’ve sniffed the fragrance of the pages when I’ve opened the book I’m reading, felt the texture of each as I’ve lifted and turned it onward. I’ve marveled at the mink-softness of Edward’s fur as I’ve run my hand over the top of his head. I’ve listened to the wind. I’ve walked outside in the rain. I’ve opened the casement window at midnight to sit and stare at the moon. I’ve relished the smell of rising yeast bread; marveled at the green of the ferns as I water them in the evening.
Not only have I stopped to think about what I’m doing,
I feel I’m doing it all just a wee bit better.
**That scene in Wolf Hall was played out for real when a neighbour called and asked me to teach her two girls how to knit. Our first lesson was last week, and both parents decided to learn as well. The youngest was a promising student even if she did turn somersaults around the room after each row. The father, oddly enough, was a natural.**