Somewhere this side of a hundred years ago, I was a young college coed doing anything and everything I could to avoid taking a foreign language. Evidently that gene, the foreign language gene, also skipped my children and grandchildren, all of whom struggled through the minimum number of required foreign language units to graduate from high school and college.
I tried to circumvent the entire issue by changing majors five or six hundred times, although eventually I succumbed to the inevitable and took the mandated two semesters of French, which was essentially the same course I had taken in high school, just at warp speed.
Parlez-vous français? Anyone? Anyone?
The upshot, however, was that all my maneuvering to avoid the language requirement meant that I had almost sufficient units to graduate with any combination of four majors: English, History, Political Science, Philosophy. While I love them all, I opted for the first two and barely graduated, given the foreign language albatross, with a double major.
I was pretty sure I’d never use philosophy for any credible activity in life, but I was very wrong. As a young, newly married wife, my now ex, an engineer in both career and mentality, was caught in the same foreign language conundrum, except he had to take an Intro to Philosophy class.
He came home after the first class, weighted down with volumes of Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, FORTRAN (remember those days?) and a slim volume of Plato’s Republic. He could handle the engineering, even the FORTRAN, but write a paper on the Introduction to the Republic? A fate worse than French, evidently.
I jumped on it. I can do this. I love Plato. He looked at me like he had just discovered something new and unique about his bride. It wasn’t a good unique and, in retrospect, probably a precursor of things to come.
Long story short, I threw myself into the paper, analyzing every nuance and waxing and waning Plato. The soon-to-be ex turned in the paper without a second look and was horrified to later learn that out of the intro class of a few hundred students, he was one of five — count ’em, five — students who were now honor students and would meet individually on a weekly basis with the professor to chat about philosophy. He did make it through the class, and if I remember correctly, we did get an A.
But I digress. This is really about a footnote in a college history text. I recently recalled reading about the horrific journey of a young wife making her way with husband and young children across this nation’s lands to settle in some godforsaken place.
The author had quoted her, no doubt from some long-saved letter to relatives back home. Thank goodness for my quilting. I don’t know how I would have survived without it.
At the time, I remember thinking, good grief, that woman needs a life.
Of course, she had a life, much more challenging than ours, but I just couldn’t get my head around the comment about quilting. In my mind’s eye, quilting was nothing more than a tedious chore.
I’m here to tell you, I was wrong on that one, too.
There’s the design part of quilting that is so creative, placing and playing with fabrics until the design comes together and dances. It’s pure magic when that happens, regardless of the century.
And then, once you know where you’re hopefully headed, comes a quiet meditation in sewing the pieces. The mind quiets and the process that I once thought so tedious is actually a much welcomed escape from this era’s frenetic chaos and threats, perceived or real.
Interesting, isn’t it, that the more things change, the more we stay the same?