You know the imagination game we play as adults, “What would you do if you had a million dollars”? One sits back and day dreams about it for a while, with any luck breaking out of your regular, square, time and money limited thinking habits and peeking into a dream of something really cool you could do…if only. And then you shrug it off because, well, you don’t have a million dollars and aren’t going to anytime soon and you’ve got this pile of work sitting on your desk waiting for you right here and now.
I think many of us have other versions of that day dream game pass through our minds that are a bit closer to home…related to what we do, where we live, who we love. “What would you do if you could get that dream job?”. “What would it be like if I lived in such and such a place?” “What if my lover were perfect in all these ways?”. Whatever, I think you get my drift. We day dream…it seldom has much to do with reality, and usually there is nothing backing those day dreams.
But this project, the Living Threads project, it started as a day dream that was plopped in front of me quite unwittingly. You see, I make my living as a cultural tour guide in Oaxaca, Mexico, creating tours focused on people and their traditions. Many of the trips I build look at textiles, weaving, natural dyeing, traditional dress. I love these things, the old ways in which we humans live. Lots of subtle wisdom in it, lots of elements that just make sense. Hard to put words on it, but I get it in my gut, and I build journeys to share these places with others.
A while back on one of my tours, which was focused on weaving, dyeing and traditional dress of a far corner of Oaxaca, the clients were a group of women who all worked in the publishing industry in the US…specifically publishing related to textiles. They came from Interweave Press and Thrums Books . I’ve been running textile tours long enough that plenty of people know of me. I’ve written a couple of articles published in Interweave Press magazines. I wrote a book about Oaxacan pottery. They knew who I was and a bit about my background. So aside from coming on the tour to have a grand time, much to my surprise they also came to ask me a question:
“How would you like to write a book on Oaxacan textiles?”
“We can publish it.” Wow! Now that’s an exciting thought! Oaxaca NEEDS a book about its textiles, there really isn’t anything out there. But there is so much going on here in so many places and in so many ways, I thought to myself, and though I know the general panorama, I’m no expert. And though I love the weaving and dyeing, I’m not technical, I don’t know how they tie up their looms and make those designs, I don’t know their methods of embroidery, I don’t know the chemistry behind indigo or cochineal dye…dang, there’s a whole lot I don’t know come to think of it! And I’m not sure I want to go and learn it all either. There are others that know much more about these things than I… one of them should write the book on Oaxacan textiles.
And so, though I said I needed to reflect on the offer for a week, in my head I’d already made up my mind: No, I’m not the person to write the book on Oaxacan textiles.
But there it was, just like that million dollar day dream…”do you want to write the book?” In my heart of hearts…hell yes! But really now, practically, it just doesn’t make sense. No, I’m not the person…