Sometimes as I walk around NYC, it strikes me that it feels much different to me today than when I moved here almost 15 years ago.  Of course, that’s to be expected, but why?  In a city that is infinitely variable and surprising, what makes the difference between the feeling of exciting discovery and the feeling of old familiarity?

I think it is this: now that I have lived here for so long, I have a map in my mind that extends beyond just what I can see.  I know what’s on the next block up- or downtown.  I’ve worked in that office building.  I’ve eaten in that restaurant.  And on and on…

With that familiarity comes the ability to predict:  I know where the subway goes.   I liked (or didn’t like) that restaurant.  I now make choices to go places or do things based on what has happened in the past.  I have developed patterns.

I love to travel.  One of the reasons, I’ve come to realize, is that I don’t have a map in my mind.  I know only what’s around me, what I can see.  There is no pattern.  Instead, there is an exciting sense of freedom and discovery in not knowing what’s beyond the bend in the road.

When you design a quilt, do you go with what you know or do you try something new?  Are you even aware of the assumptions and patterns that guide your design choices?  For example, think about gravity: it is an assumption so deeply ingrained in us that we never even give it a second thought.  But what if gravity stopped working today?  How would that affect your design choices?

Next time you set out to design a quilt (or anything else for that matter), ask yourself “what if?” and let those two little words take you beyond the bend in the road.

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