What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
A poem that holds a special place in my heart is Langston Hughes’ Harlem. It’s a short poem but it has meant so much to me in thinking about my own journey through life. A couple years ago, I wrote a similar post on my personal blog with this poem relating to another deferred dream of mine: being a ballerina. This dream has never been seriously realized (although I did take an introductory ballet class last year), and it’s always been a regret of mine. But in thinking about Generative Crochet and making in general, the outlook is a little more positive.
When it came to ballet, my dream felt more like a dried up raisin, much too dry to be palatable or useful (not to mention the fact that I hate raisins). It was once fresh and full of potential, but as I got older and learned more about myself and my passions, that dream just dried up. But like a raisin, it never fully disintegrated. It pops up every now and again with a particularly moving piece of classical music or when I watch a ballet.
However, when it comes to making, I feel more like the dream just exploded, almost without warning, into every part of my life just because I love doing it. I deferred making it a serious thing, so I just tried to have it be something on the side. But as with all passions, a side hustle is usually not enough.
I’ve been making in some way, shape, or form for a substantial portion of my life. Art class was where I thrived. I would pride myself in making the most detailed or most beautiful crafts in school, church, and home. Handmade gifts are my modus operandi when it comes to showing someone I care. I would draw, paint, sculpt, sew, write, code, hack, and design almost anything. I loved the fact that if I could just be patient and do X thing for Y amount of time, something interesting and new would come out of it. My imagination could run wild, and I could express that in a multitude of ways. I never questioned that love of making. I just accepted it as something I liked to do as a hobby, but would later put aside for a “real” job. I allowed myself to keep exploring and learning about different types of making, but never with the intention that this could be something serious, that it could be a legitimate way of life.
I also love teaching people how to make. Some of my favorite jobs relate to working in maker spaces and teaching younger students the ins and outs of the design process. There’s something about making that encourages independence and value, and I love being able to impart those concepts to young makers. Making helps you learn about the materials, how they perform, what textures they can make, what their applications are. It’s a lesson that lasts a lifetime and I love showing people that they too can discover the beauty of making. But again, I saw it as a side job. Nothing to be taken seriously. Good for the summers between school semesters, but not as a profession.
Beyond just the creation of a physical or digital object, making relaxes me. When I have to focus on something that could be ruined by a moment of impatience or inattentiveness, I enter this state of flow where I’m just calmly focused on what I'm doing. I don’t think about any past anxieties or worries for the day, just about how to get that perfect color of red or choose the exact word I need. I truly appreciate those moments when I’m just thinking about how best to create something rather than worrying about something I have no control over. Because making has this calming effect on me, I again thought that no legitimate career could make you feel relaxed. I thought that I needed to be stressed and challenged within an inch of my brainpower until I came home exhausted, only wanting to watch Netflix for three hours.
Despite these, I think, incorrect views of the illegitimacy of the seriousness of making, it still thrived in my life. So much so that I couldn’t just ignore this passion. I couldn’t just ignore the fact that I am most myself when I am making something. Sometimes the best part of my day is seeing the delight on a friend's face once I give them a handmade gift. Without my express doing, making exploded into all corners of my life. I would use every opportunity to make. I would hoard supplies and think of designs where I could use them. That explosion was unplanned yet unavoidable.
Now that the explosion has happened, I’m trying to control the passion that came out of it. And that’s where Generative Crochet has partially come in. I have had moments of entrepreneurship in high school with designing posters and other promotional material. But this is the first time where I’ve fully immersed myself into the process. Not only am I crocheting products, but I’m designing the tools, I’m tweaking the patterns, making a brand, writing about the journey, and iterating on the process. It’s a whole system of making that I never thought I could do. I am, of course, sad that I’ve deferred this dream for so long, but there is no use in dwelling on past regrets. I only need to work with this explosive system of making so I can discover what I want to do and how I want to do it.
Maybe it will result in a thriving business. Maybe it will become a community of crocheters and makers who want to explore different processes. Maybe it will just be a personal journey, one where I keep designing and improving on my designs. Or maybe it will become all three, who knows? But I do know I’m going to keep letting my dreams explode into my life, but this time, not because of deferral, but because I intentionally want to see where my dreams will take me.