Sunday, July 15, 2007

Do Over

When I was a child we would play "Putt-Putt"golf. (Known as miniature golf up here in the North East.) At each hole we would put our colored ball down and give our first stroke a try. You stood there and assessed the lay of the land while considering what angle you might try for the best shot at a hole in one. It was some serious fun. You comically pretended that you were in the finals of the U.S. Open. Gave serious contemplation of your shot. Stood over the ball, picked imaginary grass obstacles out of the way, deliberately placed your invisibly cleated feet, wiggled your hips, squared your shoulders, went back for the big swing, slowed it all down and tapped that ball with the putter. Sometimes you hit a good shot and would strut off, pleased with yourself, wearing a faux-arrogance that asserted your well-known superiority. You might even start talking up your skills and meting out tips to the other, clearly less professional players.

More often, though, you whacked it out of bounds, or simply watched it move in a direction that was not at all what you intended and bump into obstacles you were clearly trying to avoid. In the latter situation, you might stand at the tee and start writhing your body with exaggerated arm gestures, willing that ball to switch directions and get back on the path you set out for with the power of telekinesis - which you know won't work, but you can't stop yourself from giving it a try. Anyone watching from a distance might think you a clown and laugh at you, or simply think you daft and turn away pretending not to notice. Your friends, though, would laugh with you and obligingly give you a "do over". The game was just more fun for everyone that way.

Okay, I'm an adult now. Sadly, I can't remember the last time I play Putt-Putt. But I feel that I stepped up to the Circles tee with a vision of what it could be. I assessed the lay of the land with market studies. I stood over the ball and removed some obstacles. I went for the big swing with a business plan and I slowed it down by culling out bits that we didn't have the financing for and tapped that ball with the putter when I opened shop. I didn't completely whack it out of bounds, but as the ball kept rolling it was clear that it wasn't going where I intended and it was hitting obstacles I had really hoped to avoid. Ever since then, I've been standing at the tee contorting my body in attempts to get that ball back on the path via telekinesis.

I've been writhing so much that I started to feel twisted. And not in that happy way that creates a beautiful yarn. (ok, mixing metaphors....) Over twisted here, under twisted there. Leaving me with a 'novelty' yarn I have no vision for.

What do I mean? My vision for Circles is about connections. Yes, I've said it before. People connecting to each other, to themselves, to their creativity, to the sources of their materials. Concretely this meant supporting artisan yarn vendors, meeting farmers and dyers, nurturing creativity in people and generating a place pulsing with the dynamism of the human spirit. I wanted to carry products that were predominantly from cottage businesses. I wanted to continue my work in knitting therapy. I wanted to see a design studio emerge. I wanted this to become a community center; an entity that was so much more than me.

There were obstacles along the way. First it was finding a partner so that we had enough resources to start up. Then my daughter started having grand mal seizures every night, meaning I got no sleep for about a year. During that time, we discovered a serious bookkeeping error that hid from us bills due to vendors. Then I got sick. Then, then, then......

With every obstacle, I had to make choices. In retrospect they were compromises. Compromises to the vision. Compromises that would clear a path we couldn't get off of. Also, in retrospect, I faced trauma. I watched my own child have a Grand Mal seizure. I'm not sure I can fully describe the mortification, the full-bodied, all-encompassing fear. First there is the original witnessing, where it looked like my daughter has just died in my arms. Then there was the growing realization of the potentially permanent harm that can result - brain damage, "collateral injuries". It requires a vigilance. Meanwhile, I was living with the sense that I was supposed to be her caretaker and I didn't know what I could do of if I had done something wrong. My caretaking job might be transformed into that of watching over a debilitated child, rather than nurturing a healthy one. Both roles are full and rich, but one requires a very different life and a grieving of a life vision.

I'm not at my best when I'm traumatized. I'm not able to articulate my needs and I don't make good decisions. So, the obstacles forced Circles to carve a different path, then my decisions pushed us further away. Everything seems compromised. The vision, the entity, my self.

So, what do you do, when you realize that you've been standing there at the tee flailing your arms, making funny faces and contorting yourself? You have to look away from the people who are sneering at you or ignoring you and turn to your friends who are laughing - or sobbing, or sighing - with you and ask for a "do over." Then you put that ball back on the tee. Reflect on where you wanted the ball to go and how it ended up where it did, adjust your feet, change your grip, relax your shoulders and firmly, but smoothly, hit the ball again.

As of August 1st, Circles will be at a new location: 56 Murray Hill Road in Roslindale, MA.
We will rebuild our inventory to be pre-dominantly artisan yarns and we will re-design our programs to be centered around the concept of connections. Skill-building for our craft, certainly, but also, bridge building for our spirits. See you there!