Practice Mendfulness

I’ve “met” a few amazing menders through Instagram. Not a sentence I’d have imagined myself writing a decade ago. But the threads of connection on social media have implications on how I live my life, even though the mending Instagrammers are scattered all over the world, and even though we’ll likely never meet. I ordered Katrina Rodabough’s book after connecting with her on Instagram. Her specialty is visible mending, or Sashiko. You’re not trying to hide the fact that the item is mended, but instead to make beautiful work of it. It’s the denim equivalent of Kintsugi, the gorgeous Japanese art of repairing cracks in pottery with gold lacquer. I like visible mending both because it doesn’t try to hide the fact that a garment has been worn and loved and tended to, and because I’m a remedial seamstress and can never convincingly hide my repairs anyway.

But what does any of this have to do with climate moods? A ton, actually. Mending takes time, and the economics often don’t add up. I’ll spend an hour sewing up the knees on a pair of $8 kiddo leggings. But the art of the fix is surprisingly satisfying. I hosted a mending night a few years ago, and with the aid of a few Singer ringers, everyone went home with a handful of restored garments, a deep sense of contentment, and a lot of cheese. Often, my mending piles sit for a year so when I literally close a loop, I get the kind of tactile satisfaction that’s analagous to crossing off TO-DO list item with a thick red marker.

While mending was absolutely necessary just two generations ago, these days actually taking the time to fix what’s broken can feel downright countercultural. Manufacturers essentially strong-arm us into disposing what ought to be fixed. Supply chains are one-way streets! Fighting the throwawayness of it all is both tiring and emboldening. But more on this in next week’s newsletter!

We know that knitting and crafting are great prescriptions for combatting anxiety, so it makes perfect sense that mending should be likewise. I really do feel as if I’m healing something when I mend, and I don’t just mean the ^ athleisure leggings from Old Navy that I’ve clumsily restored to working order.

When I was a kid, I complained my way through Hebrew School.  In one of our classes, we had a workbook that featured a cartoon picture of the world with a Band Aid on it. The workbook was all about the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, which literally translates to repairing the world. I think of this crudely drawn cartoon all the time, its message successfully imprinted on my brain at the age where things imprinted on your brain stick around and become part of your worldview. And I’m thankful for this slightly anthropocentric mindburn of an image. Because I am literally trying to Band-Aid my small corner of the world. And because my mending is about as pretty as a Band-Aid.