CHAPTER 47: THE MAT-MAKER
By Jon Steinhagen
We do what we’ve been doing for a few hours when I say to him “It just occurred to me that this weaving, requiring two, is actually ‘we’ve-ing,’ because ‘we’ve’ been at it now for a few hours and probably could be at it for a few more hours. It also occurred to me that everything we do is a repeat action. Back and forth, countless times, to produce a finished product. Not, perhaps, countless time; if we start again or when we start a new one, I could keep count of the back and forths and then we’d know how many of them make up what we will have. We’re doing this, we’ve been doing this, back and forth, we’re used to it, the motions, you look out at something and I look out at something, both of us looks away from the work at hand for a
brief period, but not at the same time, and that looking away we’ve been doing is, I think, our way of following our thoughts, as if to suggest our thoughts aren’t always on the work at hand and the ones that aren’t manage, somehow, to flutter off into the wind, and we watch as they escape. And what are those fluttering thoughts? Anything and everything. It’s impossible for me to know what you are thinking at any given moment, especially since you never say much at all, and that’s possibly because I say a great deal about what I’m thinking, observing, feeling…why is that? That is a thought, too, a thought that will drift away, because there are a hundred answers for the question or possibly only one. Or none. There is no answer. Or there is no reason to answer it.”
On we go. I say “What we’ve been doing is, if you think of it one way – the way I’m about to tell you – killing time. Yes, I admit that what we’re working on will be useful, to some degree, when it’s finished, but it isn’t exactly a necessary thing. We could live without out it. I think that could be said about any repetitive task. Don’t you? We’ve been engaged in one thing, those over there are engaged in another, those we’ve never met are engaged in yet another – all around, repetitive tasks, each designed to create something from nothing, a bigger picture, if you will, made up of repeated actions. And I said we’ve been killing time, but in a way we’ve also been creating time, too, of our particular design, because the way you’re handling your part of the creation is a bit erratic – I’m not criticizing you – I’m sticking to a fairly traditional methodology in the sense that I’m also reacting to the way you’re handling things, and so while you and I know how this is supposed to come out, we’re going about it in different ways, repeating actions but slightly varying each action in response to each other, variations upon variations that have, however, a structure imposed upon them, because we didn’t embark upon this particular task with no design or purpose in mind; no, we knew what we wanted to end up with and we went about it in the way we knew how, and eventually we’ll be done.”
He continues, I continue. I say “What we’re doing is waiting for something else, another event, something bigger, something we’ve been anticipating or told to anticipate. That’s the ultimate goal of the work, I think – it’s a way to stay occupied until the bigger something happens. And it may not happen, true. But there’s a possibility it could, or so we’ve been told, and so why not believe it or, if belief is too strong for you, why not play along or have enough curiosity to see if it will happen? If it comes or not, at least we’ll have something to show for it. Again, this is time, and this is chance, and in a way it’s also choice, because we could choose to do what we do or we could choose to not do it. Not unlike the way I’m choosing to follow your erratic style of endeavor within the rigid framework of the product we’ve set out to create. And of the three, time, chance, and choice, I’d say time is the greatest, as it’s only a matter of time before someone else – someone not engaged in what we, specifically, are doing, but someone engaged in looking out for the bigger something – it’s only a matter of time before that someone else tells us what is next.”
We continue. Someone else tells us something bigger is upon us.
We stop what we’re doing.
I say “We’ve not finished what we’ve been doing, but that doesn’t matter now, does it?
We will either return to it later or not at all. What we’ve got now is a different set of tasks to attend to, tasks that are also repeated actions, actions that we don’t make as often as the ones on which we were so recently employed, but that’s because we’ve been working on the smaller picture, and the bigger thing requires broader gestures performed by more than two people, which means that you and I are now going to be part of a larger effort requiring everyone here or at least everyone who has knowledge of the things that go into achieving what it is we want to do, and we only want to do it because someone else has made us believe that it’s something we want, and what has made that someone else want the bigger thing? Where did the wanting begin?”
We see the something that is something bigger. We fall to action. We’ve been prepared.