Sunday, September 6, 2009

Square 56: Hotel room

Square 056

I like hotel rooms. They remind me of childhood road trips with my family, mostly alone with my parents after I was eight years old. We all looked forward to and enjoyed exploring new places, seeing new sights and learning things.

This weekend I'm on my first trip to a new place in more than year: Ottawa. I'll probably write more about that later, but this story is about the first morning in this room at Albert on Bay Suites Hotel.

For the first time in weeks, I didn't have anything to do, at least nothing necessary. The room was so deliciously quiet, I flopped on the couch and stared at the ceiling. It was stippled white, the walls a pale pear. The moment I lay stationary, several things crowded my mind—things I could do with my time, like knit, read, write, phone someone, or go for a walk and explore this new city.

But those neutral colours absorbed my gaze, and I resisted the imperative to act. For what seemed like the first time in months, I let my thoughts drain away and my mind lie empty. Whenever an idea presented itself, I watched it cross my mind, let it pull away, peeling like a layer of onion to approach a core of stillness, let it abide within me. With each skin, I noticed which thoughts underlay the others, and realized what thoughts were most essential to my current situation.

When we're not attentive this way, it's easy to let urgent motives crowd out the truer priorities. When I get home, I want to take more time like this to be still. I have room for it in my new apartment, quiet places to sit in a deep blue room. The power to observe one's self and be mindful of inner processes is an important step in the cycle of creativity.

In this square I used light grey Létt-Lopi and an unknown pale peach oddball yarn purchased on this trip to represent the neutral space of meditation. The quick sequence of vivid, diverse colours represents ideas and motives that divide my time; they are all valuable, but when they fall over one another I tend to feel hurried and frustrated. With further reflection and stillness, some threads peel away and I choose how to concentrate my attention.

Even after selecting the azure wool (probably Briggs and Little), I allowed it to suggest a subtler related shade, the blue-grey fragment of Noro Silk Garden, to finish the square.


  1. Never truer, Van! Thanks for the reminder.

    This is really something we should make space for on Earth.

    I manage to attain this perfect state when I make time to sit in the sun. And that's what I'm going to make time for today. Thank you for describing it so vividly that I can feel it and WANT to feel it.

  2. Hi, Van!

    I don't believe this, but I somehow missed your comment on my blog back in May. Blogger usually mails me the comments but I don't recall seeing it and can't for the life of me find it. Our mutual contact Danny O. mentioned to me that he had a friend who purchased one of my yarns at All Strung Out, and tonight while updating my long-neglected fibre blog I spotted your comment about the Berry Smoothie yarn. I am so flattered, and if Lilacs it inspired, then Lilacs it is! I've just scanned back through your mitred square posts and will obviously have to return to read in more detail. What a wonderful project. I look forward to seeing your finished blanket.

  3. Pippa, it is such a simple and pleasant truth, but hard to put into practice. So many other things tend to press out the time for stillness. I find that designating a specific place for it helps here, too. I hope you're still enjoying the sunshine.

    Johanna, it was a pleasure to meet you yesterday. I hope you had fun at the fair!