Earlier this month, inspired by the pictures of paper chains I saw…somewhere, I got the crazy idea to create one of our own. One link in the chain for every day in 2011. It was quite the feat to cut out all those paper strips which certainly made me appreciate the paper weaving strip package the Nasco sells. When I first saw the $15 price tag I thought it a bit much. After having cut out more than 3o0 construction paper strips I can see why buying them already cut or purchasing a paper cutter would have been immensely helpful. Losing a few paper strips to the baby? Who let the baby get ahold of them?!?
From there the process wasn’t all that bad. The gentle rhythm as you curve each strip of paper, nesting it within the previous link, and then taping it together becomes a gentle form of meditation – like knitting, crocheting, or yoga. The cadence of your breath eases into a smooth rhythm. The texture of the paper. The glossiness of the tape. From there you have two options. The first is to free your mind and allow it to wander, ponder, and dream. The other is to use the motions to center you in your space. A bit like yoga, but for the crafty type. For me it was the second. Focusing on the task at hand allows me in many ways to be centered in the space of our home. My inaction through action seems to even out the children’s energy as they shift from literally bouncing off of the walls to quieter endeavors. It’s as if the inner stillness or gentle rhythm helps them to center themselves. The energy lines rooting them in parallel endeavors to my own. Often, my creative work inspires buildings and structures made of Legos or blocks. On this day, they found incredible joy simply by exploring all those strips of paper.
The joy found in simple strips of paper was magnified as Z and I lifted the long chain from its construction space to the walls. A little bit at a time the chain was hung with a few push pins. Across the living room walls and through the entryway. Back down the living room wall and right into the hallway. Down the hallway on one side and back up the other. Just a couple of feet or so and we would have met the beginning of the chain. The kids were awestruck by the chain. I was humbled by the perspective something like this brings.
So many paper chains. So many moments in the days that make up the year. So much…and yet so little at the same time. The paradox of life. At the start of the year (or a period of your life) everything stretched out before you like a vast field. From the spot where you sit it’s as if the horizon swallows up the land and its infiniteness. By the time you reach the end of the year (or a period of your life) it all seems to have flow by so fast. Where did all the time go? It was but a minute and then it was gone.
Connection. Roots. Presence. Gratefulness. These are all words I found washing over me as we hung the chain. A calendar of sorts – a way to mark the cadence of our days and a reminder of how fleeting it all is.