I was looking for something to learn, I’d made a promise to myself with the beginning of the stay at home period that every week I’d try something new. Sometimes things take me more than a week to finish, but I still try to do something new every week. This time I wasn’t sure what I was going to do so I decided to search for hobbies. I wanted to try something that built connections to other people. Embroidery netted me social media likes but nothing in real life. I wanted to reach out to friends and family but didn’t want to participate in another Zoom call or FaceTime. I was feeling exhausted by a total technology overload and wanted to do something with my hands.
When I saw a kit called Origami Stationery with a book of directions and a large number of two different size pages of decorative paper. I knew I’d found my next thing to learn. I’m not a fan of ordering off massive online storefronts but in the midst of a pandemic there weren’t any local stores to buy from. Please, if you’re looking at this and thinking you want to try it go to your local bookstore and see if they can order it for you. If they still aren’t open where you are, you can click on the link and get it from Amazon.
When I started folding the first sheet I immediately made a decision to work my way through the pages but not to go in order because certain designs called to me more than others. I put a note inside each of them in order to send them to people. You can see what I did the first night in the photo below.
I sent the first one to a friend, the second to a colleague, the third to a former roommate, the fourth to a former classmate…and found a lot of joy in figuring out who should get a message and what the message should say and how it should be folded.
There is a peace that comes from being so introspective and so careful about what you’re doing that I enjoyed. I took more time writing these short messages than I have spent doing anything personal in quite a while. Professionally I’m focused of course, work brings it’s own series of things that need immediate attention ,and your work brain has to be fully ‘on’ in order to successfully navigate even small tasks when they are complicated by Covid-19. However, in my personal life I have found it hard to shut my mind off and really relax. I’m not sure if that is focusing on relaxing or not focusing on the news or the world or whatever is going on, but however it makes sense…I haven’t been able to do it well.
Thinking about it, one of the things I really enjoyed about folding these notes was the precision with which you have to follow the directions and the limited space to craft the perfect little message. There is something to be said for limiting yourself in order to have an experience that is more fulfilling. Thinking about reaching out to people, I realized I was not just telling people what I was writing in my messages but that I was thinking of them, that they mattered to me, and that they were worth my time and effort. I realized I was doing for my friends and family what I was hoping for. To be noticed, to quite literally be noteworthy, to be the recipient of someone’s time and effort, to be shown in some small way that I matter. Isn’t that what most people want? Thinking about my latest learning, I was glad I had found something challenging in order to stretch my mind, that brought me closer to my real life friends and family.