I recently realised that I mend a lot of my clothes.
This knowledge is hardly new; I have always been a sewer, a fixer, a mender. I was just made particularly aware of the fact when I found myself five metres above ground, hanging on a silk (I do aerial acrobatics), with my nose about two inches from a five centimetre tear which had been carefully, lovingly hand-stitched shut.
My immediate response as I hung there catching my breath should probably have been along the lines of “oh god, I am about to perform a fall that will send me hurtling towards the ground, while the silk, the only thing stopping me from free-falling to my death, has a tear that has been hand-stitched in it”. Not necessarily a logical thought (if a silk was actually inoperable, they wouldn’t have had me climbing it), but surely an understandably emotive reaction. To my surprise, this wasn’t the case; rather than fearing for my neck, I just kept thinking about the shirt I had been sitting up in bed hand-sewing the night before.
Even after I got back on the ground (having successfully performed the fall without dying), I kept thinking about the other mending jobs I have recently completed; a tear in the leg of Mum’s unitard, a rip in the back of a cardi, the fraying seam on a much-loved shirt, the hem taken up because it was a little too long.
Of course mending not only repairs faults and failures, but lends character to your clothing.
For me this knowledge comes in the form of an oversized woolly jumper; nibbled by clothes-moths for years, when I adopted it there were a lot of holes to mend. Most people would have just chucked it without thinking twice, but I decided to see what I could do with a crochet needle and some brown wool. To be fair there is probably more darning than jumper now, but I love it all the same.
Darning, mending, hand-stitching, these actions are ones of deep meditation.
They are also the hand-movements which make visible our sentiments of respect; respect for the people who designed and made the clothes we wear, for the environmental resources expended in their construction, and even respect for the clothes themselves; that we are willing to invest in them, and value the way they have made us feel beautiful.
So please, rather than throw out a clothing item the next time it rips or tears, mend and make do.
After all, just like your clothes, respect looks good on you.