(Not) numbering the days

I have taken to rolling up and pinning the stitch journal, just to stop it getting so unwieldy. It’s a long strip, about 7 or 8 feet, and it tends to unroll itself as I stitch each daily block.

Safety pins keeping it together

I unrolled it today, just to see everything in context. Winter into spring.

The year so far

And what I find myself thinking is: those are 69 days of my life that I will never see again. I know I was there, because I stitched each block. But do I remember all those days? I don’t. And, of course, we can’t possibly remember everything. We only tend to remember the exceptionally good and the exceptionally bad things that happened on those days.

A number of days

I’m deliberately choosing not to mark the stitch journal with numbers or dates, because the calendar is arbitrary really. Who decided that our years begin on January 1st? We are born, and we live for some days, and then our days end, and the calendar has very little to do with it. The calendar just gives us something on which to pin and memorialise our experience. The days just join up.

I found myself wondering about how many days we can expect, in general. If you live to be 80 you get about 30,000 days. You spend about 10,000 of those days asleep. Factor in all the other practical necessary things that take time – washing, cooking, eating, going to work, etc – and it really isn’t very long. Factor in war and disease, for those people in terrible circumstances, and it’s even less.

The most recent days

This isn’t about making the most of every minute, or trying to cram more things in because life is short. Sometimes just being alive – just being – is enough, and sometimes that takes a lot of mental and emotional energy. Even when we’re sitting still, time is passing and taking us along for the ride.

The day before yesterday. The Welsh have a lovely word for it: echdoe

I wonder about the empty space still to come, the section of blank sheet that is still to be unrolled. The days I will stitch together. The white sheet, that is the foundation for the stitch journal, is antique/vintage French metis (a linen/cotton blend), and will itself have seen birth, life, and death. So much time rolled up in my hands. We are lucky to be here.

Author: Karen

Textile and mixed media artist

18 thoughts on “(Not) numbering the days”

  1. It’s looking great! And on the subject of time, I just listened to Krista Tippett talking to Oliver Burkeman on her ‘On Being’ podcast which you might enjoy too 🙂

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  2. Interesting–thinking about how we spend our lives. I am 76 and seeing all that is going on in the world–simple stitching seems an act of gratitude for all that I have and all that I have had. sorrows and happiness all rolled into one.

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  3. I think that it’s Peterborough Cathedral that has a very confusing tombstone for a little girl which states that she died before she was born. Eventually someone couldn’t bring themselves to regard it as a mistake any more and worked out that her father was a lawyer and he’d used the legal calendar, which I think moves on to the new year at Michaelmas or something. So you are quite right to regard the calendar as rather arbitrary!

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  4. I often find I fret about the speed time has passed and can’t get my head out of it. After John’s heart attack in September it’s really brought how you have to live now into focus. Some days we do loads and others we do nothing, they both have value. Doesn’t mean I still don’t fret but perhaps that I understand better I don’t have much say in the outcome, just get on with now.

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