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Philosophy Session With Needle and Thread

I have a pair of pants that had a small rip on the left knee, but I just ignored it because…well, I never sewed anything before, and the hole wasn't big enough to make the pants unwearable. But this week, when I was putting on that pair of pants, I was rushed, and my foot ended up stretching that hole (lesson 1: don't be rushed; rushing leads to mistakes), such that I couldn't wear those pants anymore (lesson 2: fix problems while their still small and early).


Since I'm away from home, I can't just ask my mom to fix it for me (lesson 3: appreciate parents while you're with them). I first asked my roommate for help, but he also didn't know how to sew things (lesson 3: learn how to be independent because the only person you can rely on is yourself). Then I thought about asking some people in the dorms for help, but I decided against it.


My mom had shown me how to sew up holes before, but I never practiced from beginning to end (lesson 4: after watching a demo, ask to practice it from beginning to end). However, I decided to challenge myself and try it. If I royally mess up, it's not a big deal, I can just cut the thread and ask someone else to help. If I succeed, then I'll gain confidence in myself. Small risk and big reward = Worth it.


The first challenge was to try to put the thread through the needle hole. The thread is so thin and the needle hole so small! Just that alone took me 15 minutes…there were many times I thought, "Maybe I should just ask someone for help…it's not like I really need to know how to sew things…I can just buy another pair of pants…". But deep down, I knew that these were just excuses to avoid difficulty and discomfort.


The Buddha once said,

"The success of everything depends on endurance."


Venerable Jing Kong commented, 

"Great endurance, great success. Little endurance, little success. No endurance, no success."


Thus, I told myself, "This isn't simply about sewing a hole. It's about strengthening my mind and enduring discomfort. If I can't even endure the difficulty of threading a needle, how can I have any success in the future?"


So I persisted. No counting failures. No thoughts about how long this will take. Just keep trying. Eventually, the thread went through the hole.


The next challenge was deciding how long I want the thread to be. I looked at the hole and guessed that twice the length of the hole should be OK. I cut the thread and tied a knot at the end. Then I started sewing. My technique probably isn't good, and if a professional saw me, she'd probably facepalm, but it's fine. My goal is simply to sew up the hole and accomplish something I've never done before.


As I kept sewing, I soon realized that this thread isn't long enough. I should've cut three times the length of the thread. What now? Just keep going. I managed to sew approximately 80% of the hole. This reminded me of a quote from The Great Learning:

"If you seek with a sincere heart, then even if you don't hit the bullseye, you won't be far off."


Indeed, I was determined to sew this hole by myself no matter how difficult it would be, and I managed to sew up 80% of it. I remember my mother did some sort of technique to make a knot at the end using the needle, but I have too little thread, so I just cut the thread at the needle head, then I used my hands to try to make a knot with the little remaining thread.


This last part was another big battle. I had to try to make a circle, then put the tail into that circle to make a knot. But there's so little thread, and the thread is so soft, it's very hard to shape. This probably took me another 15 minutes. I was getting tired, but I cheered myself on.


I remembered another quote from The Practice of Equilibrium:

"What others can do in one effort, I am willing to spend one hundred efforts. What others can do in ten efforts, I am willing to spend one thousand efforts. If one can do this, then even if dull, one will definitely become sharp; even if weak, one will definitely become strong."


I told myself, "I can definitely do it. I can do anything I set my mind to as long as I never give up. Even if this takes me an hour I won't give up. I have to cheer myself on because the only reliable cheerleader I can have is myself."


Finally, I succeeded in tying that last knot. I felt a big sense of accomplishment for persevering until the end, and I took a picture to commemorate this event.

This event was a good reminder that perseverance is key to success, and the joy of one's own improvement is always worth it.


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