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The white yarn slipped off my aluminium crochet hook, adding a single crochet to rows and rows of existing stitches, that looked to be in the form of a blob. Staring at the image of the little unicorn amigurumi lit up on the screen of my laptop, and looking back at the UMO (unidentified messy object) number five, I was extremely perplexed.
This had seemed so easy. Round 1, construct a magic circle with 6 single crochets. Done. Round 2 was an increase round resulting in a total of 12 stitches. Also done. The remaining rounds were blurred into hours and minutes that should have resulted in a little white creature in the likeness of a unicorn, but sitting on my desk (much like the four days before today) was a pool of tangled white yarn. It was not until day seven that a creature with a lopsided head whose horn was the only identifier of the mythical being emerged.
Very much like learning how to crochet, my journey in forging my own path and finding a passion was confusing, messy and at times infuriating. Even in primary school, I had heard all the stories of individuals finding their own route in life. I had been told stories of those who found their passion at a young age and were exceptionally proficient at their craft, of those that abandoned their interests and pursued a lucrative career, even those who chose their dreams but regretted it afterwards. This weighed heavily on me, as I was determined to have a success story as many of my other family members had. The only problem was that I did not have a direction.
In the years following primary school, I stepped out of my comfort zone in a frenzy to find a passion. I joined the school orchestra where I played the violin, and a debate class to practice public speaking and become much more eloquent. At my ballet school, I branched out to contemporary and jazz dance. I stuffed myself with experience similar to an amigurumi engorged with batting. I found myself enjoying all of those activities but soon enough, I was swamped with extracurriculars. Just like the tangles of white yarn on my desk, I was pulled in all directions. I still felt lost. To make things worse, it seemed as if everyone else had found their path in life, and they had all become white unicorns while I was still doubting the stitch I just made.
It was not until high school that I realised that I could view this mission to find a passion from another perspective. While successfully completing a crochet project is an accomplishment itself, the motions of making slip knots, single or double crochets takes you on an adventure as well. The knots that I had encountered in my craft were evidence of my experiences and what shaped me as an individual. My exploration of various paths through detours may have sometimes resulted in roadblocks, but I continued to persevere and learn from my experiences, applying the skills that I have gained to future knots. The mini adventures that I went on were all crucial to me in the greater journey of life.
Through trial and error, the current adventure that I am on resonates the most with me, taking me down the path of service and environmental activism. However, I have learnt that no one path is static, and I can be on more than one path at a time. While I may only be halfway to the proportionate unicorn amigurumi that some others may have already achieved, I still have so much to learn and so much that I want to learn, and so my journey to grow continues.
NO.2——Red Over Black
“Bring the ace of spades up,” my Grandmother said as we started our first game of solitaire after I got home from school. “Now, put the black eight onto the red nine.” We played solitaire often, working together to reorganize the cards most efficiently. While it was meant to be a single-player game, solitaire was the one thing we did together, moving and dealing the cards in a symphony of order: red to black, red to black. Pulling the pattern out of the random array of cards.
For hours, we sat at our glossy kitchen table, playing game after game. If there were no more moves to make, I would always sneak a card from below a column without my grandma seeing. She always did. I couldn’t understand- What was the big deal of revealing the cards? We might win one out of ten games played. But if we just ‘helped ourselves,’ as I liked to call it, we could win them all. I didn’t understand her adherence to the “Turn Three” rule. Why not just turn the cards one by one? It was too frustrating to see the cards go by, but turn exactly three and not be able to pick them up! After one game we lost, I asked my grandma, “Why do we play this way? There’s a much better way to play.” In response, she quickly explained her adamancy to the rules, what before had made no sense to me.
Her polished fingernails scratched against the cards as she shuffled them and told me. “Solitaire isn’t just a game for one person.” Her deep brown eyes sharply glanced at me, “No.” It wasn’t just a game for one person, but rather for two sides of a person. It was an internal battle, a strengthening of the mind. One playing against oneself. “If one side of you cheats, how would either side get better?”
Red lipsticked lips slightly grinned as my grandma saw me trying to understand, but I didn’t agree with this thought at once. The cards rhythmically slapped down onto the table as my grandmother, small yet stoic, effortlessly moved the cards with frail hands. I watched her. I thought about any other way to understand this idea. I desperately wanted to. Trying to think, I couldn’t imagine another instance where this sense of tranquility, bringing the melody of organization out of a cacophony of random cards, came from such intense competition.
The slow manipulation of life around her precedent made me think back to my grandma, to what she told me, and made me understand. Two years later, pushing myself harder than I ever had before in a field hockey match, I realized how much I had been cheating myself and my team by not putting this effort in before. Four years later, I was helping my parents clean after dinner when I saw the value in not taking the easy way out. Five years later, I found once again the difficult ease in pottery. Lifting the pot off the wheel, I found satisfaction. Looking back, I hadn’t realized that this notion of self-accountability appears in almost every aspect of my life.
Seven columns. Four aces. Fifty-two cards. Laying these down, I’m brought back to playing solitaire with my grandmother. Through time, her inner spirit never crumbled as her body began to deteriorate. Her mind stayed strong and proud. I admired her for that more than she could’ve imagined. Each challenge I face, or will face, in life, I think back to her lesson one inconspicuous afternoon. Never let myself cheat. Always hold myself accountable. Work hard in every competition, especially the ones against myself, as those are the ones that better me the most. I did not understand what my grandmother meant that day. Now, with each day, I do more.
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