1. Meet The Reluctant Weaver
Myrna was unhappy. She had travelled all the way to Tuscany in search of chocolate and luxury but today she was squatting on a low stool learning how to weave a basket.
Wasn’t this something mental patients did in occupational therapy? She kept this thought to herself. She tried to follow the directions but she muttered to herself. “I’m not good at crafts” and then later, “I’m not doing this.”
Malo, the teacher and master basket weaver, was patient. She scooted over to Myrna’s stool, and showed her the finger movements yet the process was still frustrating. The rest of the group was quiet as they worked on making the bases for their baskets. No one had given up, so Myrna soldiered on but every so often she put her tangled reeds down on the floor. Peer pressure and kind words compelled her to try one more time.
It seemed that everyone was better at this than her. Last night when the group decided to make collages on the dining room table she said, “No thanks,” when asked to participate. She was happy to read her book by the fire while her friends cut out scraps from magazines.
Myrna was most comfortable in the kitchen. She was planning to make challah and crème caramel for tomorrow night’s dinner. She couldn’t wait to see the bubbles form in the bread dough as it started to rise.
But now she struggled with the rattan and reeds, doing her best to follow the instructions.
It began to make sense after Malo showed her for the fifth or possibly the sixth time how to wrap the reeds around the base. Myrna’s body relaxed when she allowed her fingers to take control and soon she was weaving.
In fact, in a short period of time, her basket started to look like a basket. Indeed, It was the most symmetrical of the group and possibly the best, not that anyone was competing for this designation.
Evy certainly was not an artist. She could make music out of just about any instrument and catch any tune, but she felt intimidated when a blank piece of paper was put in front of her.
But tonight when Temma organized a collage group at the dining room table, Evy decided to join, and said in typical Evy style, “ I’m not comfortable making art. But I will try.”
Temma showed the group how to use a technique called “under gluing” and advised the group to tear the paper, rather than use scissors. She had bought an outrageous fashion magazine called “Tush” at the Frankfort airport and added some Florentine paper to the arsenal of raw materials.
Evy was quiet while the others got to work. “How to begin?” She asked no one in particular, but snagged a page of pouty red lips with vampire-like teeth from “Tush.”
The rest of the group worked quietly. Temma re-created a scene from the Arezzo antique market, Estelle worked hard at making a fantasy fruit basket while Margo recreated the colours and textures of Florence. Marcella had no plan, as usual, while she stole olive leaves from a flower vase to paste on her collage.
Soon Evy had a statement about fashion in front of her. The next day, when Giovanni, our handsome Italian driver was asked to pick out Evy’s collage, he immediately knew which one was hers. It was the most vibrant, colourful and alive piece of art.
When I am out of my comfort zone and if it happens on one of the days when I am brave enough to see it through, I am transformed and somehow see the world differently.
If I can stay with the discomfort and listen for the origin of the problem, I grow.
I can embrace a new culture and allow myself to feel awkward. Yes, I can even sing in the choir or watch cinghales being butchered. ( see the posst “My Crazy Italian Life” part one and part two)