By: Aaron Lampitoc
Photo credits of: Aaron Lampitoc
When I started working at VACS, I was assigned to several projects. Even on my first day, I was already organising and facilitating a series of events called “Weaving Our Way”. I did not expect to be hosting an event when I was just barely comfortable with the organisation’s expectations. It was quite overwhelming! Fortunately, there were not a lot of members during this time—in fact, there were many newcomers other than myself that day. I was relieved that I was not the only one who was making their debut. Even some of the regular and experienced members were trying experimental methods for their current projects.
For example, an ongoing member named Josette was attempting to create an “experimental sunset” composition. At the time, it was a simple, abstract red and orange background with a lone yellow “sun” with an orange gradient. She told me that through the process of trial and error, she experimented with combining the indefinite elements of the shapes of wool and weaving with the definite structures of geometrical shapes into a complex, yet unified form of self-expression. She explained that due to her lack of skill in drawing and the traditional fine arts, playing around with her materials like this allowed her to express herself in a way that was beyond the realms of simply making an image. She was embarrassed when I said I wanted to showcase her work as it looked imperfect and messy, but I have an appreciation for the continual progression of someone trying to create something that they are passionate about.
I could tell that we were going to make many mistakes; we were all going to fail at some point. But we are not perfect, and I did not expect myself to be perfect from the very beginning. Learning and mastery takes time. Even those with talent need to practice and hone themselves in order to become better. Failure is part of the process to becoming better.
During another Weaving Our Way meeting, I noticed that the experienced members supported all of the newcomers. They were considerate, kind, and supportive; they did not mind that the newcomers made mistakes. Some of the newcomers were able to adapt quickly, whereas others had to start over and over again. But in the end, they all enjoyed themselves. They did not care that they failed, embarrassed themselves a little, and did not know what to do. Everyone accepted that failure was simply part of the learning process and kept moving forward to improve themselves.
For instance, one of the new members, Rebecca, had already started on her project. However, the experienced members noticed that she prepared her loom in such a peculiar manner that even they did not know how to fix it! It was sad to think that all of her hard work was incorrect—but they encouraged her that it was still workable and she was able to continue forward. To my surprise, when we came to the next meeting, her project was nearly complete! She explained to me that it was her first time weaving, but she had some experience with designing and techniques that were similar to weaving—which influenced how she was able to make such a beautiful work.
Her design featured her beloved dog. He is already gone, but she told me he had lived a wonderful life! She described to me a wonderful story about him: how he was lost, how she found him, and that in the afterlife, he now happily lives on the rainbow. In fact, the last time I saw her making her project during the previous meeting was the start of the rainbow composition at the other side of her dog design.
As long as you keep persevering, making mistakes, failing, and simply surpassing your shortcomings with time, patience, and practice can lead to great successes in life. Some of us do not learn or adapt as quickly as others, but I believe that with perseverance and determination there will at least be a significant difference between who you were then and who you are now.
I know that I need to continually learn and adapt everyday—I make the same mistakes, but I try to improve myself regardless of that. Every day I was able to make some progress. Even though I still make the same mistakes sometimes, I know that it is not because I have not learned nor changed, but that there are some things that cannot be “perfected” or mistakes that are inevitable regardless of your skill level. Many masters have failed and made mistakes—we are human after all. I did not let these repeated mistakes discourage me: it lets me know that I should not be complacent and should continuously pursue my own self-improvement. Life will be full of mistakes and failures, but it is up to you to determine if that stops you or moves you forward.