Journal

Learning New Things

27 July 2016

bookbinding4A few days ago, I bound a new copy of my poetry novel for a work sample, trying out a new type of stab binding. I am learning book-binding sporadically. I went to a workshop in Edinburgh and another one in Chiang Mai, and I have barely scraped the surface of all there is to know, but I don’t worry about getting all the details right. I just enjoy the slow learning process immensely.

Learning to illustrate feels different. Today, the children’s book that I wrote with my mother and illustrated in Chiang Mai was made available for pre-order, and it is scarier than I could have imagined. Putting my imperfect illustrations out there releases a bunch of butterflies with razor-sharp wings into my stomach. It’s exciting, but painfully real.

We all make mistakes while we learn. It is how we learn. And yet, in some areas, we keep our own expectations dangerously high. Impossibly high.

I feel like this whole year is a lesson in learning for me. I am trying and failing, falling and getting back up again. This summer, in Mundekulla, I face new tasks every week. And boy, have I made mistakes. I have dropped half a can of paint on the ground, painted a room and a sign with the wrong kinds of paint, washed the wrong kind of knives in the dishwasher and driven all the way into town and back to collect vegetables with a flat tire without noticing.

And I have realized that it doesn’t matter all that much. The world may freeze for a second, but it doesn’t end because of my clumsiness. I may agonize over it all I want, but in most cases, the rest of the world will forget about it a moment later, or not even notice what happened.

This summer, I have started to apply this mindset to my personal work, lowering my expectations in the areas that I feel I should master by now. And little by little, I am smoothing out the edges of those butterfly wings, letting them flutter without pain, reclaiming the joy in learning.

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