Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lifelines and labyrinths

It's no secret that I've dabbled with psychedelics. Even people I haven't shared that information with tell me I seem like the type just based on my peace sign necklace, my bell-bottomed jeans with embroidered flowers, the way my car always smells like temple incense and other flowers. Psychedelics have shaped a lot of my philosophies and beliefs and have a very spiritual connection for me. Knitting has also had a profound effect on my person and is equally spiritual in its own way, though obviously in a more kinesthetic sort of way than a psychoactive one. Lately in my meditation I've been revisiting old experiences and drawing new wisdom from them, and I realized that I had, in my last big trip, used a priceless knitting technique as a tripping tool - the lifeline.

The lifeline in knitting can save knitters - especially lace knitters - hours of toil and headaches. For those who aren't familiar with the technique, a lifeline is a piece of extra yarn or string threaded through the live stitches at a strategic point (or several points) to allow the knitter to rip back sections without losing stitches or having to tink row by row. Your hope is that you never need the lifeline and will just remove it at the end.

I realized this morning that I had done a very similar thing before my last big trip. I was trying a new psychedelic and after I had taken it but before it had fully kicked in, I grabbed a good friend (there were several of us hanging out that evening) and told him "This is just a marker in time for me: The car keys are on the kitchen counter, and we had this conversation." To which he (being used to this sort of thing) said "Ok!".

I knew that if the trip took me too deeply down the rabbit hole, that conversation could be used as a lifeline back to a reality I lived in before the drugs kicked in all the way. I also hoped that if I couldn't find the car keys later, that conversation would hopefully serve as a memory tag. At the time I said it, I had a vague notion of my intentions behind such a conversation, but at the time it also seemed to have very little purpose as it was never again referenced by either me or my friend. This morning when thinking back over the event, I realized that I was trying to create the psychological equivalent of a lifeline. I didn't really want to have to use it, you'll goal in a knitting project is to get to the finish line without ripping back, but I had created it just in case I needed it.

This struck me as cool because it says two big things to me:
1) It is another example of how people can use psychedelics safely (something I advocate strongly)
2) It shows that knitting teaches you skills that you can use in ways you never even thought of.

As Theseus was saved in the labyrinth by a ball of string, so knitting left me a lifeline in the labyrinth of my mind.

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