My daughter teases me. She tells her friends, “My mom bought a shirt because she wanted to understand it.” She uses verbal air quotes, and they all look at me, gawking. They look back at her and laugh. And run off.
When I sit to create a garment, I have to do all the steps in the right order. When I was a novice, my mother-in-law walked me through measuring the straight lines of a curtain. Pressing the measured seam allowance, stitching the straight line of the rod pocket.
She is gone, and I work on her machine. When I want to learn something new, I have to understand it. So I bought the shirt, 3 bucks on sale, and studied it.
This same daughter will read Cold Mountain this summer. I’ve read the book twice, but I’m reading it through again with a teacher’s eyes. With a learner’s eyes. This makes me read more slowly, but it also shows me, the writer, how the book was built.
We’re sharing the copy, so instead of making notes in the book, I’ve dogeared about fifty pages so far. Analogy, foreshadowing, description, setting. My previous experience with the book is a boon; I read knowing the ending, so certain events stand out.
The article about running form challenged me. I’d been avoiding that particular topic, for fear. Fear that any suggested changes would be hard, or mess up my (hardly worth mentioning) abilities. It was all too much.
The piece tackled every part of the body used in running, including my innards. I decided it would be impossible to correct or experiment with each part in one run. I am taking the long approach. Each run, I pay attention to a different set of muscles or parts. My eyes, my arms, my toes, my back.
Eventually, I will put it all together in one well-oiled machine…of sorts.
In order to develop my skills as a runner, a reader, a teacher, a seamstress, I must study the work of others. But not just anyone. Experts. Skilled workers. I make myself a kind of apprentice to the masters, because I want to know how to do what they do. I want to be as good as they are.
What deconstruction do you do?