I’m getting pretty deep into the world of mending. There are hashtags to follow and books to read. And, of course, the actual practice of taking stitch after stitch after stitch. A friend and I have started getting together for tea and mending sessions, which is really lovely.
And as I’m working away, feeling all empowered by my ability to stand up to the forces of Fast Fashion and Mass Consumerism, I also remember my Mum and my Nana, who were both champion menders. And what I remember about them is how grateful they were for the lives they had.
It can seem counter intuitive, living in a time of disposability and easy replacement. If you haven’t actually done it, fixing a hole in your sock, rather than buying new might seem like deprivation. But then you sit down with your needle and thread and take a look at what goes into making a pair of socks. And you start to mend the hole, carefully so that you don’t end up with lumps that will give you blisters and somehow, this act of thriftiness and seeming deprivation leaves you feeling happier. Grateful for your socks, your thread, your time.
And it makes me think that it’s our abundance and the wasteful pursuit of convenience that came with it that has led to our dissatisfaction. That maybe holding the line on what we get and actually deeply caring for the things we already have is the better way.
We talk about gratitude journals, gratitude practices where we sit down and try to remind ourselves of the many things we have that we ought to be grateful for and how weird is it that we need to remind ourselves?
My Nana didn’t have a lot. She grew up poor. Raised a big family during the Depression. They nearly lost their house and often went hungry. They took in boarders to help pay the mortgage. Even after the Depression ended, she was not a wealthy woman. And yet she was grateful. Without needing to make lists or meditate on them, she knew her blessings and appreciated them. She also mended, repaired, made do. And I think by doing that, she bypassed the need for a separate Gratitude Practice. The care of things, the slowing down and noticing, the tenderness required for a good repair led naturally to the kind of gratitude and deep contentment most of us long for.
I highly recommend fixing your broken things as a path to contentment. Mend your socks, patch your jeans, reglue your wobbly chair. Think about the people who made them, the memories they hold. The skills are basic and easy to learn. A quick search will turn up instructions and videos for anything you can’t figure out yourself.
And then sit down, take a deep breath and do the repair. See how you feel about your sock or your chair afterward. See how you feel about your life. I’m guessing you’ll be a little more content and a lot more grateful.