Growing up I had these children’s books that came with cassette tapes so I could listen to the story while I read along. I had Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, Star Wars, and probably my favorite, Aesop’s Fables.
Star Wars was definitely my favorite.
But I used to love reading along with the stories of The Lion and the Mouse, The Ant and the Grasshopper, and the Tortoise and the Hare.
These tales taught me simple moral truths through easy to remember stories.
How many times have you heard “slow and steady wins the race”? Probably not as much as “May the force be with you,” but you get my point.
The Importance of Parables
In Sunday school we learned about the parables Jesus taught in the Bible.
The Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and the Ten Talents were instrumental to my upbringing. I have been fascinated by fables like these all my life, and have collected many from around the world.
Recently I came across one such story that I think illustrates a major challenge many knitters face.
Here it is…
Story Time: The Cup or the Curtain
Once upon a time, in a kingdom that probably never really existed, a woman was caught stealing some coins from a local merchant in the market. This merchant was selling goods on behalf of the queen, so stealing from him was like stealing from the Queen herself. And of course, a crime against the Queen was punishable by death.
The woman was brought to the throne room and immediately she began to cry.
“Your majesty, I am a poor woman, who was only trying to buy some food. Had I known I was stealing from you, I never would have tried. Please have mercy on me.”
The Queen looked down on the woman from her throne, not with anger, but with compassion.
“It does not matter the reason for your crime. You have stolen from my merchant,” said the Queen. “I cannot allow my people to steal from me without punishment. The law says your crime deserves death, but I will show you some mercy. I will allow you to choose your fate.”
The woman looked up at the Queen with a questioning look.
“To my left is a curtain,” the Queen continued. “What lies behind it I will not tell. But I can assure you it is a painful experience that most people fear above all else. You may choose to walk through this curtain and face your punishment or you can choose what is on this table.”
She gestured to a small table on her right. “Here on the table is a cup. This cup contains a poison that will certainly kill you, but you will not feel any pain when you pass through the curtain.”
The Queen had barely finished giving the options before the woman had grabbed the cup and swallowed the poison. The drink was sweet and surprisingly pleasant. She looked up at the Queen and nodded, then turned toward the curtain and slowly walked toward her fate. She could feel the poison begin to numb her senses. As she placed her hands on the curtain her fingers tingled as though her arm was asleep. Before she pulled the curtain back, she looked back at the Queen.
“What is on the other side of this curtain?” The woman asked the Queen. “As I am about to die anyway, please show me mercy once more by telling me what waits for me.”
The Queen looked upon the woman with sadness in her eyes. “I have given many people this choice, and all have chosen to drink the cup, afraid of what horrors await them on the other side. This fear makes a peaceful, painless death by poison seem like mercy. But the only thing beyond that curtain is freedom. I have been waiting for someone to have the courage to face it.”
When we are dealing with knitting the stakes are hardly life and death.
Still for many, the fear of failure can feel as daunting as choosing to walk through a curtain with an unknown fate.
How many times have you searched through beautiful knitting patterns, only to hear that little voice inside your head whisper “you can’t make that, it’s too hard for you”?
That is the voice of fear.
It’s a useful thing, fear. It tries to protect you from getting hurt.
It doesn’t want you to take risks.
It doesn’t want you to struggle.
It doesn’t want you to fail.
And it doesn’t want you to grow.
Fear wants you to be comfortable.
It would rather you drink “poison” and do nothing than face the prospect of feeling pain yet still be alive.
It wants you to knit only garter stitch for 50 years and never make anything but scarves. It wants you to buy luxurious yarn but keep it in your storage bin forever so you don’t ruin it.
It wants you to look at beautiful knitting patterns, but it doesn’t want you to make them, because you might mess it up.
Knitting without fear is much more simple than that.
It’s not about never making a mistake.
It’s not about finishing every project you start.
It’s not about understanding every pattern perfectly the first time.
A fearless knitter does one thing better than everyone else.
When that fearful voice starts whispering in your ear,
“You can’t do that, it’s too hard,”
You answer back…
“But I can try.”