- A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
- Better late than never.
- A picture paints a thousand words.
- Change is as good as a rest.
- A watched pot never boils.
- Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
I’m sure that most of us have heard these and the many other proverbs. You may even say them without thinking about it, I know I do.
My Grandmother used a lot of proverbs, one of her most quoted was ‘A stitch in time, saves nine.’ As a child, I though she meant it literally, it made sense since she was teaching me to knit and sew. It’s not surprising that I took it at face value.
[ If it’s of interest, It seems the phrase originated in France, during the 1700’s, and was first recorded in English in Thomas Fuller’s book of Gnomologia (1732) ]
But I digress…
Most (if not all) proverbs were intended to teach the masses in an easily remembered format. However, I wonder if any of them thought about alternate meanings?
The subject of this blog invaded my thoughts, without any form of invite. It wasn’t one of my considered subjects, but never-the-less, it has refused to go away until I put it ‘out there’. So for the sake of my sanity, I shall attempt to quell it’s nagging.
A stitch in time, saves nine.
In our hectic daily lives, how often do we put off doing things, telling ourselves we haven’t got time? Frequently, even if concerned about their health, many people will use a variety of excuses to avoid seeing their doctor. Even when the ailment becomes more worrying, they ignore it, doing anything to avoid hearing the truth. However, this can easily back-fire. The delay could mean that a simple, easy to treat niggle has become a more serious problem, with all that entails. Without a proper diagnosis, how can any of us know? Why do we procrastinate over something as serious as our health? Use that first*stitch* when needed, there is nothing to gain by delay.
Maybe you misunderstand what someone is telling you and you get angry. Your temper rockets skyward, preventing the unwitting recipient the opportunity to clarify what they were saying. The argument gets personal, with you hurling hurtful insults. Later, once the fiery rage has faded, you reflect and realise you were in the wrong. You owe the other person an apology, do you make your peace immediately or avoid it, hoping it will resolve itself? It won’t. In most cases, delayed apologies are less likely to be accepted.
How many of us have bumped into an old acquaintance – you know the face but can’t recall their name? They are chatting as if you were long-lost friends, what do you do? The sensible solution would be to apologise, then explain and ask them to remind you. But courage is a strange being, it can tell you it will be easier to bluff your way through the conversation. So you smile and chat, walking on quicksand, hoping you don’t give the game away. ( I fall into this category). You might breath a sigh of relief when they leave, but what if you meet them again? How much more difficult is it going to be then?
For no specific reason, you are late for a meeting, do you make a simple apology, or concoct an elaborate web of lies? While the fanciful tales might ease your conscience, is your memory really that good? You will be walking on egg-shells, scared of being caught out. And what happens if you are?
One of the most difficult and distressing situations, is meeting someone you know has been recently bereaved. You don’t want to speak to them because you’re nervous about saying the wrong thing. Few of us can instinctively find the right words, (if there is such a thing) but avoidance, perhaps by crossing the street, doesn’t help anyone, nor does it solve anything. You’ll still need to have that first conversation sometime, you can’t avoid it forever. Pushing through your discomfort by focusing on the other person’s needs is kinder and easier, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
Relationships can be a ticking time-bomb. Even in a fairly close partnership, it’s likely that at some point the boat will be rocked and by the law of averages, at some point, the blame will be well and truly yours. You’ve hurt the person you love most, they are upset, the atmosphere is dreadful. You want things back as they were but you also want to save face, besides why you should make the first move? They were to blame as well! You realise that you need to talk through your problem but your inner coward is insisting you avoid the truth at all costs. So instead you snipe and bitch, hoping that your partner apologises first. Problems can easily escalate and there is no way of knowing how much damage is being done. While there is love between you, there is no place for pride. Put your partner first. Using the *stitch* in time, can make the difference between healing the hurt, or allowing your world to collapse around you.
The key in all of these scenarios, is one word, or rather, two – ‘I’m sorry.’ It’s a simple little phrase, but said with humility, it can be the necessary *stitch* that repairs the damage. It can hold things together, even bridging the widest chasm. It’s up to you whether you use it.
In the context of this proverb, I believe ‘one stitch’ means to face up to your problem as soon as possible. Delaying tactics might render your sewing abilities futile.
Sometimes, the remaining eight stitches won’t be enough.
This is my interpretation but you may think differently, I’d be interested to hear other ideas.