Lots of things I do require time, patience, and attention. Some of them require a considerable amount of revision — tearing out words, paragraphs, whole pages at a time — to get them right. Parenting requires all of the above and more, though it’s not as if one can simply re-do to correct mistakes. But, of course — as I realized while watching the yarn I liked so much slip between my fingers for a second and then a third time — it’s really not about the end result. Most things that are worth anything aren’t, I guess. We often focus on the product — the book, the job, the graduation picture, the finished sweater. But it’s the process that keeps us invested, keeps us coming back. As I unknit the yarn, I remembered how much I enjoyed knitting it, and how much I would enjoy knitting it again, more slowly and carefully.
I cannot, no matter how I try, extend my analogy to the nine hour drive to (or, somehow worse, from) my parents’ house — that process is merely to be endured for the promise of renewed family time at one end and the return to routine at the other. (Well, except for that uninterrupted knitting time, I suppose.) But for most other things, whether it’s reading to a child at bedtime, teaching a class, writing an article, or even knitting and unknitting a sweater, it’s the process that makes it worthwhile. There are moments of discovery — or at least potential moments — in all these things, and those moments are, in the end, what really matter to me. It was a fine spring break, judged on that basis, full of all kinds of process, all kinds of moments of discovery. And even some knitting.