The first snowflakes came and went. I let one fall to my tongue while I walked to work on Monday morning. There is an elaborate beauty to them that I have been attempting to mirror with paper. Origami is my latest interest. I find it soothing. Somehow, between books and jobs, the satisfaction I feel creasing a leaf of paper is helping me to find my center.

In “Personal and Impersonal,” William Matthews writes, “An apprentice not only learns the tools and materials of a craft, but commits to memory and muscle memory the characteristic motion of an activity. Such repetition is not only a sort of calisthenics. We know that in human evolution greater brain capacity is linked to greater hand-to-eye coordination. Presumably, the increasing complexity of physical chores stimulated more complex brain activity. Perhaps lifelong immersion in intricate processes such as writing poetry or playing the piano works similarly. In any case, an apprentics begins by confronting those parts of a craft that are easiest to describe with words like anonymous, collective, and traditional. But a skillful apprentice moves toward a condition of mastery by which quite opposite words are invoked: hallmark, signature, style. ‘You only have so many notes,’ said Dizzie Gillespie, “and what makes a style is how you get from one note to another.'”

I try to keep this in mind as I near graduation. I am not thinking of the completion of my BFA as even remotely resembling the completion of my education. Rather, it represents a shift in the model by which I will learn. Rather than continuing to apprentice books, I am transforming into an apprentice of business practices. I am thrilled to complicate my rehearsals, combining the exercise of my skills in many areas–words, web, zest–all those things I do best but can do so much better. The possibilities are keeping me on my toes.

Fold origami to leave between the pages of library books.


~ by Jennifer Stohlmann on December 10, 2010.

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