Where the biggest change takes place
A phrase used in an astrology reading like “a big change is coming for you” stirs the image of an external force coming to uproot me from my everyday life to unknown territory. It does sound exciting. I would want to know how and when exactly that happens.
But from what I observed in my life and many others’, these moments of change are hard to notice when we’re in the midst of it; it’s something to be seen and understood later.
Eight years ago, Kinuyo left the shop I used to manage and started working at a library. She seemed to have enjoyed being in a quiet environment. Her favourite part of work was book-mending: ripped pages, scribbles, coming undone front covers… she would immerse herself in putting these damaged books back into shape.
When the pandemic hit, she accepted to be on the “wait-at-home” list where she’d only receive 60% of her regular monthly income. And that later turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
She met darning, also known as visual mending. It’s a way of mending holes in socks or ripped shirts with threads and needles. Much like kintsugi, it is the technique to give a second life to broken objects. The process of darning is very slow and steady. Stitch by stitch, she found herself immersed in a mending process again.
“I often lose track of time and find myself sitting in the same posture for an entire afternoon, when my stiff back demands a stretch.”
When two months passed, her phone rang. The caller ID said “work”.
“Hi. I hope you’ve been well. Sorry to have kept you waiting in line for so long. Our library is finally ready to open again. The 1st of July will be our first meeting of this fiscal year 2020.”
She had to take some time after the phone call. She felt at a loss for the first time in a while.
“And it was that very moment, I could hear my voice ‘I don’t want to go back.’ in my head.”
What would she… or you do? It wasn’t like her to cancel her work: She was always good at sensing others’ needs and accommodating them without pushing her own. She was my last resort when I, as a shop manager, needed to find somebody to take a Sunday shift or work overtime. She also remembered many times in her life when she wanted to explore creative paths but didn’t; for work, financial security, timing, and all the valid reasons.
This time, she could no longer ignore her own voice.
“I attended the first meeting. And when it was over, I went up to talk with the manager. I told him it was my first and last day at work” she said, “ I told him I found something I wanted to pursue.” She said that he understood.
She then found a 2-day-a-week job, moved back into her parents’ house, and started sewing 5 days a week from morning to evening.
“It fills me with contentment. It’s funny, but I’m surprised with myself for never getting bored or tired.”
One night, I invited the girls who used to work at my shop for dinner. Kinuyo was there, too. After dinner, it was dessert time.
“Tea or Coffee?” I asked, boiling water in the kettle.
It was either going to be a big pot of coffee or tea. But no one made a comment out of consideration for others. I looked at Kinuyo. And she said “Coffee, then, please”
There was a small pause.
Then the rest of the girls went “wow!” It sounded like, “I didn’t expect that from you!” to me. We were all happy for the surprise.
Kinuyo’s transformation, subtle yet unmissable, reminds me that the biggest change of all happens from within. It may seem like a small choice making, and we can be oblivious to the scale of change it entails.
It was the moment she decided to listen to her inner voice.
The moment she decided to prioritise her desire.
She was already on her path.