I have often and sadly noted the distance between what I imagine something will be like, and what it actually turns out to be. Nowhere is the distance between the real and the ideal more clear than in the delirium that periodically makes me attempt to knit a shawl, or take up scrapbooking, or cook a complicated recipe that Martha Stewart has assured me will be a good thing. It never is.
The Merry Christmas wreath I imagined would be suitable for gifting or hanging on my front door emerged from dream to reality as a tangled mass of wire, tattered ribbons and blood-spattered pine cones—the latter due to an unfortunate jab into my thumb instead of a pine cone. The ceramic bowl intended as a decorative item became a misshapen object with collapsing sides, useful only as a conversation piece, and only if the conversation began with “What is that?” The gingerbread house begun with high hopes and plastic canvas faded into the reality of a grubby, forlorn, knotted and bowed creation that looked more like an abandoned shack than a fairytale cottage.
And it was ever thus. I never mastered the basic building blocks of arts and crafts—measuring, cutting with scissors, gluing shiny things to fabric, not to my fingers. I admire very much those who do have such skills. Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, I can still be lured from the land of reality to the place of possibility, where once, just this once, my idea and my result will match.
I’m not involved in any crafty pursuits at the moment, yet the holidays are in the offing, and I know that a faint, siren song will call to me. Why don’t you knit a pair of socks for everyone for Christmas? How hard can it be?
The thing is, I know how hard it can be. And I know how true the T. S. Eliot quote is: “Between the idea and the reality … Falls the Shadow.” So, I’ll try to stop myself, focus on my next book, or maybe just read someone else’s. I’ll leave the box with all the left-over yarn from other, misbegotten projects on the island of misfit crafts, where it belongs. And yet, I can just imagine how good those socks would look …