The secret to a rich life? It’s in each individual thread

I recommend reading the book Outside, an enchanting and mystical collection of short stories by Barry Lopez. The anthology’s last story in particular expresses the idea of life as a tapestry composed of hundreds of exquisite threads, each deserving of our notice and care, and together forming a beauty that shimmers far beyond the reach of words.

In “Empira’s Tapestry,” the narrator Marlis stands in awe of a magnificent tapestry woven by her mysterious friend Empira. The tapestry depicts “a wilderness scene of bright sunlight over a canyon,” and it stuns Marlis with its intricacy and radiance, as she expresses in this passage:

When I first looked at [Empira’s tapestry] I thought it had to be a painting, so fine was her weave. Only with my glasses on could I distinguish the threads from one another or, more amazing, the boundaries between colors. A hundred spools of thread pegged on a board ran the spectrum from plum through saffron to ruby red, with dozens of shades of blue and green and hues of brown.

Marlis struggles for words to compliment Empira on the depth of her skill, but Empira has a simple explanation for her handiwork:

It’s each individual thread, Marlis. Tying off each single thread. Pulling them from the spools, holding them to the light, feeling their tension, like violin strings, before they become part of the pattern.

Empira then draws a lovely parallel between the care she has taken in weaving the tapestry and the care many of us fail to take with the threads in our own lives:

We suspect so little of what goes on in the world, of what is happening or has happened to us. We don’t gather the threads, Marlis. We let them go and then the wind weaves them. We let go and float. We eddy up along the river somewhere, most of us, and just wait out our time.

The threads of your life, if gathered and appreciated for their own unique qualities, create a rich and striking tapestry that is yours alone. The key, Lopez reminds us, is to discern the line and shape of each individual thread, to turn it over in your hands and appreciate what it has to offer, then to tie it with care and understanding into the bigger picture that is your life.

Only you can weave the tapestry of your life – but you have to dedicate yourself to the task first.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: