Warp and Weft
A man, a rug, and a warped view of life
BY: Ptolemy Tompkins
I glanced back down at the carpet and focused now not on a single “warp” fiber running at a right angle to the “weft” lines of fiber I was looking at before. Following it as it rose and dipped, traveling along the length of the carpet past one “warp” fiber after another, I imagined that that thread of carpet was me: the real, true, deeper “me” that was living the events of my life without being completely defined by them. Each weft fiber that my symbolic warp fiber crossed constituted an event in my life, just as it had before, but now something absolutely critical had changed. Day after day, one event followed another: some good, some bad, and some indifferent. But none of those events really defined the person--the more-than-simply-earthly being--that I truly am. Not only was that more-than-earthly being not defined by the earthly things that happened to it, it also didn’t come to a halt when the lines signifying the events of this present life ran out. It would continue on, past the final “weft” fiber that represented my death; the pattern would continue.
What really struck me, sitting there on that couch with Tyrrell’s book in my hand and my sister’s rug in front of me, was that in both of these two very different ways of looking at the fabric of existence, it was the same fabric that one was looking at. Life itself doesn’t change when we stop being “weft” people, when we stop seeing ourselves as purely physical beings totally defined and contained by the events of this present life. The good stuff that happens to us is still good, and the bad stuff that happens is still bad. But by making that all-important shift in focus that Tyrrell suggests--by going from a focus on the weft to a focus on the warp – the meaning of those events changes completely. By taking what you might call a warped view of the world, we see it, at last, in its true clarity.
Column: The Winged Life