A Warm Coat
A Warm Coat
Charity begins at home. Sometimes Trump seems to be saying just that. Perhaps freedom from hunger is the freedom we all need. When our people are starving, roving the streets looking for shelter, chronically unemployed, then it is at last time for a movement. It’s what prompted the revolutions of the 19th century and it’s what drove the 1960s Civil Rights activism. We are no more impervious to ills of imposed poverty than to the desire to feed and shelter our families. The people have spoken, and beneath the rhetoric of hate, misogyny and bigotry, are the very real concerns of people who have witnessed a steady decline in resources, opportunities and wages, as well as the intangibles: loss of pride, purpose and dignity. Unlike the bulk of Trump’s electorate, I don’t draw the boundary along a color line. I see that in San Francisco, the disenfranchised, displaced and working poor are blacks, averaging salaries of $24,000 a year. These communities, long-time residents of this thriving metropolis, are in need of jobs, resources, supermarkets and hope. Maybe we will see change.
That said, this is not the time to go to sleep. We need to remain watchful, vigilant and engaged. Trump’s policies need to provide for all of us, not just White Americans, who are feeling the pain that historically, only Native Americans, African Americans and Latino Americans and countless other minority groups have experienced. It’s the same pain. The pain is momentarily evenly distributed among those of the working class and working poor: groups, which are increasingly indistinguishable from one another. Let us look upon the lessons of history and see that we are our brother’s keeper. We’re in it together. Four years, or less: Who knows? But if we get more jobs, better paying jobs, I’m okay with prosperity.
In the meantime, let’s practice agape, friends. I’m talking about love. Kindness is contagious.
“You have to decide what kind of knitter you want to be,” counsels Angela F. Thomas, while sitting in my sunny front room telling stories and explaining the difference between a knit and a pearl. I’m just concentrating on knitting today. Anything else is a mistake. Ideally, the rows will be identical, and I will learn to smoothly guide the yarn over the top of needle without looking—some day, maybe. Today is not that day. Oh, I get it, in theory. Now if I could only remember how to cast… It doesn’t matter; I’ve had my first lesson, and I’m hooked on knitting.
I’m convinced that with the right teacher, anyone can learn to knit and the benefits can make it worth your time. Knitting is not only fun, it builds manual dexterity, is a way to make TV time productive and buys a person entry into one of the oldest crafts in civilized society. I’m in. After spending time with a great teacher, I can see that another wonderful benefit of learning to knit is the community building it affords.
Storytelling is essential to knitting. Angela sits with her glass of green juice, instead of the Coke she requested, explaining how her mother and grandmother taught her. I tell her about green juice and my vegetable garden while I laugh at my mistakes. She steps behind me, wraps her arms around me and guides my hands with the needles in them. “We mustn’t lose this art,” Angela explains. We have to hold on to sitting together for these face-time moments. Life is not only emails and text messages. We have to have soup and tea while we share our gifts and tell our stories. Only when we tell our story while a friend listens do we become whole. The things we reciprocate, heal us, soothing out the weariness of city life, strengthening a connection born in another context. I feel as if I’ve met Angela’s elderly mother after sitting in a room knitting with her daughter for two hours. That’s the gift of presence that comes from making time for one another.
With knitting there’s also quality time with yourself if you need it. You don’t need company or music or a goal; you don’t need a lot of stuff—just a pair of needles and some yarn. Even when you make mistakes you still have the concentration, tranquility and productivity of making a knit. It’s good for your brain since you will get challenged, especially when you first start. This little hobby can keep you sane and healthy. And with any luck, you’ll wear your new scarf to work and claim, “I made it myself!”