By Kristen Banks
When I was a little girl, I liked to go visit Sher-Den Mall in Sherman, Texas. It is a little known fact that there is an inherent instinct in every female, of any age, to know that “The Mall” is the place to go to get anything and everything your heart desires.
In my case, it was a $2 grab bag at the toy store, and an ice cream shaped like Mickey Mouse with chocolate dipped ears. At 4 years old, this was a real treat, and although it felt like they were few and far between I looked forward to those trips with anticipation.
Although I obviously couldn’t drive myself there, I could tell someone else basically how to get me there and I was proud that I knew how to get to where I wanted to go. I was very confident that there was only one way to get from point A to to point B, and that was the way I knew was it. My Dad found this amusing and then explained that there were actually many ways to get to the mall in Sherman, Texas and the best way to do that depended on where you started from.
It was also around this age that I first started sewing. I used to see my Mom, Grandma, and Aunt sitting around doing handwork. When I would ask them what they were doing, they would say, “sewing.” Ever curious and wanting to do whatever the grown up adult ladies were doing, I naturally wanted to sew too. I wasn’t sure how they made my dolls, clothes, quilts, etc., but I knew they sewed them and that sticking a threaded needle into fabric was sewing.
After much begging, and under close supervision, they finally let me have my own needle, thread, and fabric scraps to play with. I was over the moon, and pretty confident that my asymetrical meandering handiwork was going to magically turn into something pretty amazing eventually. I was pretty sure if I jabbed that threaded needle into my fabric and weaved it back and forth enough times I was going to end up with something pretty awesome just like the women in my family did when they sewed.
I knew only one way to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, and based on my 4-year-old logic, I was pretty sure that my way was the only way to get that done. While I was doing pretty good for a 4-year-old, what I didn’t know was that I was only going to be able to progress so far with my preferred method of sewing. There were in fact, much better ways of accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish. I just needed someone that knew a little bit more than I did to show me how to add to my new found skills.
Sometimes when I’m teaching, and introduce a new unfamiliar technique to someone, a look of panic washes across their face. I can almost read their mind as they’re thinking, “This is not the way we do this.” It’s only natural to feel uncomfortable or uncertain when presented with something new. It’s fine to have methods that you’re comfortable with, and to be proud of the skills you’ve collected. But always be open to learning new things, whether it’s in a classroom setting or maybe a new idea presented by a fellow quilter or friend.
Some things you might try once and decide that they just aren’t for you, and then again others might change your way of thinking and open up new and exciting possibilites for you. Sometimes we just need someone with a little more knowledge on the subject than we have, to add a little something to us. We might know how to get started on a path, but we might need a little help reaching our final destination.
It’s not about trying to ‘one up’ each other, or making someone feel inferior, it’s about helping each other learn and grow along the way. I might add something to you today, and you might add something to me tomorrow.
It’s only human to think that there’s only one right answer, and that the one we’re most familiar with is it. But the truth is there can be more than one right anwser. And which one is best, all depends on where you started from. But the best way to get from point A to point B is to walk together.
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