The imperative of doing things we love

Dear President Trump,

This morning Laura and I went to a nearby coffee shop to meet an old friend of hers. They get together to catch up a couple of times a year and since I took the day off, I tagged along. It was lovely meeting her friend and getting to hear about their childhoods and families. The reason to bring this tiny event up, though, actually has to do with the young boy who was sitting a few tables down with his mom. I was sitting facing them and noticed that he kept looking over in our direction and seemed to be looking at me. Since I’m used to being quite invisible to most, I thought he must be checking out the gas fire insert right behind me, but when his mom noticed that I was noticing him looking, she explained that he was watching me knit. I asked him if he knits and he shook his head ‘no’ and his mom said they’ve tried a few times but they haven’t gotten the hang of it yet. Before they left he came up to me and commented on how fast I knit without looking. He seemed puzzled that this is possible so I reassured him that with a lot of practice, it really isn’t hard at all.

How cool that a little boy (he’s 7) has tried to learn to knit and could talk with me about it. My dad taught me how to knit when I was 8 (he’d learned when he was a kid because his class knit squares for Red Cross blankets), so I go way back with boys who knit.

In addition to conjuring those old learning-to-knit memories, this exchange led me to think about the woman from Nevada I told you about the other day who used to do intricate needlepoint projects but now spends most of her waking moments scouring the Internet for evidence that liberals are taking America down. This kind of loss of interest in things is a symptom of both PTSD and depression and while I have no idea whether she has either (or both) of these disorders, hers feels like a cautionary tale. I’m going to keep writing to you for the duration, which means I need to pay attention to what is going on in the wider world, but I need to make sure I don’t stop knitting or doing any of the other things I love because I don’t want to have my every waking moment dominated by negativity. There’s too much at stake for any of us to get stuck in that quicksand.

May we be safe to do things we love.
May we safeguard our happiness by doing things we love.
May we strike a healthy balance between political engagement and things that are restorative.
May we keep hold of our own joys and delight in others’.

Tracy Simpson

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