The Fabric of Our Character—Our Quilt
I just sent my approved galley of my newest novel, “My Water Path To Mississippi Moses” to my publisher, and needless to say I’m most anxious to soon hold the novel in my hands. While reviewing, I read part of a scene, and as with many writers, it sent my mind in a new direction, shouting, Essay Alert, get it down. And so I did.
This is the scene which made me think.
… Bess worked on a quilt spread out beside her, a triangle of material carefully being stitched into place. No two pieces of cloth were the same size, shape, color, or pattern. Bess noticed me studying the quilt with fascination. She smiled, stitched, and said, “A quilt represents our life, sweetheart. Every patch of cloth is an event, a person, something important. Some are colorful, beautiful, and happy, and some are dark and coarse. Every circumstance gives us a piece of itself, some large, some small, all different shapes and sizes and textures. The quilt continues to grow as we sew each new patch into the whole of who we are. I’ll complete this quilt in my lap, but we will never finish our personal quilts until we die. And with that last piece, we will give those we love our quilt to remain with them in warmth and love—and our life will be a patch to add to their quilt.”
Indeed, we are structured from our past, put together a patch at a time, and though many of the patches are forced upon us, we alone chose which ones we sew into the fabric of our character. The beautiful and positive patches strengthen our framework, while the painful and negative can either add strength, or work to tear it apart. Which ones we as individuals discard, or sew into place, is the key to the beauty or the ugliness of our quilt.
Look around, and it seems there are too many troubled, negative, angry, and hateful people. They have chosen to construct their character out of patches that should have been discarded. Is it because of ego, anger, power, attention, or just stupidity? I do not know, but the reality of our world is that they just do.
Sadly, we have no choice but to deal with these people now and then, and that presents us with a three choice challenge. We can try and ignore their actions or words, we can try in a kind and caring way to say or do something to hopefully effect a change in them (which hardly ever works), or we can act like them and strike out with words or actions and tell them off.
Since the third option only adds fuel to the fire and can get you seriously hurt, and the second option seldom works, clearly the safest option is the first. Perhaps if you know the individual well enough, the second option may be worth trying, and if unsuccessful revert back to the first.
The human psyche is a complex and often fragile thing, and trying to ‘figure it out’ in others is merely guesswork so don’t bother unless you indeed have some insight into that individual, then by all means, give a try at healing their ills. But remember, advice or constructive comment is often taken as criticism and will come across offensive.
Until we all sew on only patches of love and happiness, we will have to deal with the evening news of wars, mass shootings, murders, child molestation, domestic violence and the myriad of other horrid patches of life. But after viewing that particular patch work of the damned, or being dealt a terrible patch yourself, whatever you do, put away the needle and thread, and toss the damn patch in the trash; then do your best to forget about it.
Be proud of the quilt you are creating, choose only beautiful and loving patches to sew on, and for heaven’s sake, show your stunning quilt to everyone. Please, don’t hide it, for it will surely be a model for others working on their quilts.