Why parts of life are like the back of a tapestry.

Have you ever studied the reverse side of a tapestry?

You don’t often get the chance, of course, because they’re often framed when finished, but now and then you may come across someone working on one.

Take a look at the back.

Often you can kind of work out what’s going on on the other side, but generally the side that’s hidden from view can be a bit of a mess, with hanging threads and tangled stitches.

Does this matter?

Well, not really.

The Tapister (and according to the Oxford English Dictionary, that’s what tapestry-workers were known as) beavers away from both sides, but of course the goal is to produce a woven image which looks good just from the front.


So, what of the back then?

Should we criticise its messiness?

Should we snip off all the hanging threads?

Should we somehow try and tidy it up?

Well, again, not really.

The structure of the tapestry’s reverse is what makes the front work so well.

It’s what holds it all together.

It’s what gives the work its shape and form.

Perhaps there are elements of your own makeup which you may wish were different?

Maybe there are episodes of your life that you long to have been able to handle differently.

But (and it’s a big but) isn’t it those loose threads and uneven stitches which have been instrumental in making you who you are today?

Instead of unproductively wishing you could change the unchangeable, maybe there’s merit in recognising their value?

Celebrating them even.

In fact, here’s (wholeheartedly) to the messy background embroidery that’s got you to where you are today.

It’s all part of the two sides of life’s rich tapestry.

4 thoughts on “Why parts of life are like the back of a tapestry.

  1. What a wonderful image! I’ve never considered the duality of a tapestry, but the metaphor of “loose threads and uneven stitches” speaks to my nature. I wouldn’t trade my reverse side for something cleaner, and thanks to this thoughtful essay, I will continue to celebrate the knots beneath my fabric.

  2. As a seamstress and costumer with a interest in embroidery, this metaphor of the unseen messiness behind a beautiful tapestry really resonates for me. I agree that the loose threads and uneven stitches are exactly what make us who we are, ‘warts and all’. It all becomes part of the weave of our lives and it’s the messiness that helps to create the beauty. Thank you for this lovely post today!

  3. Love this. Don’t be so hard on yourself, there may be messy times but they’ve got you to where you are now.

  4. I was thinking about past regrets yesterday, and wishing I had done things differently. Thanks to this post, I want to let go of guilt. I need to remember things are good now. The past is threads that have been cut off and sewn up. I did the best I could at the time.

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