...and a time for every purpose under heaven. So goes the old proverb, but there's one season we rarely visit voluntarily: the season of failure.
My husband always says--when coaching young athletes, "I challenge you to fail at something every day." By that he means, try something new; reach for something beyond your current capabilities; explore life! For me right now that "new thing" is using a drop spindle to create my own yarn for knitting and crocheting. Pictured is my second spindle-full, set against the backdrop of an afghan I'm crocheting. Though it is clumsy and inconsistent in texture, I'm more proud of that new yarn than I am of the coming afghan, proud because this is a new feeling in my hands. This new skill will widen the range of my own responsibility in creating my textile products. I'm also getting ready to try a little more advanced level of Fair Isle knitting because I know that even those skills I have can be kicked up a notch if I can just accept the sacrifice of excellence as I'm learning. While sticking to things I "know" may insure appealing results, trying something new and embracing those clumsy first attempts will offer a whole new, although less tangible, benefit. New untried and unfamiliar things appearing in our hobby list keep us in touch with humility and compassion and reminds us of the value of hope.
Once upon a time, gardening was that new thing for me. I remember that first season I tried gardening. I planted a seedling marked "squash" on its label. I watched it grow and produce fruit. I waited for that fruit to change colors before I picked it, thinking it unripe. It never changed, and eventually it simply rotted on the vine. I reckoned it a failure--that plant. Only later in the fall did I, while shopping at a produce market, find the very same vegetable I grew. Not having been raised on squash, I did not realize how many different types of squash were "out there" for the growing. When I saw that mound of squash at the market, I laughed out loud. Why I'd grown beautiful squash, and never realized it! Every new venture comes with risks. A sense of humor and reasonable expectations help you weather those first "failed" attempts. A sense of perseverance bounds over the season of being a novice and leads you to those days when you are an artisan, a master. And that season lasts the rest of your life! Brother Lawrence would probably agree that there is something eternally beneficial in exploring such seasons of life.
Children happily learn new things...every day. Watch one and you'll see: tireless effort, personal satisfaction with modest progress, wonder and the thrill of discovering new worlds of knowledge and skill. So, when adults strive to learn new things, they keep alive one of the best parts of childhood.