Thoughts for Myself

B comes before A

Another spelling rule? No.

A highly unusual alphabetical order? No, no.

Some sort of a priority ranking? No, no, no!


It is a mnemonic for me to always remind myself that “basics comes before application.”


I like learning new things. And when I learn new things, I want to show off my new skills and knowledge right away. I like it even more when they get increasingly complex and high-spec, so I can impress even more. But I often become too obsessed with the “me” who can put to use these newly acquired features, I tend to make light of the importance of being able to do the simplest and plainest things in the simplest and plainest ways.


I was made to realize this bad habit when I took lessons to learn the traditional art of tea of my culture. This art form has a very interesting system in which the student must first obtain the “permission to learn” from his/her teacher before you can gain new skills and knowledge and acquire qualifications and licenses.


But obtaining thiis “permission to learn” does not assure that the student will be taught the new skills and knowledge – if the teacher feels he/she is not yet ready, the new materials can be withheld at discretion. (This is possible because, other than the fundamentals, all skills and knowledge are taught orally… there are no official textbooks available!)


My teacher taught me the fundamentals very thoroughly and I was able to acquire the introductory level qualifications within the first six months. But she did not give me the “permission to learn” intermediate skills and knowledge until nearly two years had passed, and I was never taught any of these materials before I quite after three-and-a-half years.


I could not quite understand why I did not get to learn any new things after the fundamentals while I was taking the lessons. But nearing the end of my second year in tatting, I think I see what my teacher was really trying to teach me – she was probably trying to warn me not to be too eager to do more when I have not even been able to do the least. I had overlooked the importance of being able to do the simplest and plainest fundamentals in the simplest and plainest conduct.


Maybe the basics of anything are easy to learn and acquire.

So maybe they will quickly become uninteresting and unexciting, making you eager to apply these basics to learn and acquire more.

But maybe if your basics are shaky in any way, their applications building upon them will be proportionally fragile and vulnerable to failure.


Hence, the mnemonic “B comes before A” – return to, and brush up, the basics before I start to learn new skills and knowledge that build upon them.


Today’s tatting was just that:




Only rings and chains, the basics of tatting. I knew it was going to be excruciatingly boring if I only saw it as a simple and plain pattern. So instead, I took it as an opportunity to brush up my basics, paying attention to every stitch, every picot, every closing of rings, and every tightening of chains.


It made me realize I still have a long way to go before I can give myself the “permission to learn” more complex and high-spec tatting… but it also made me hopeful that I am finally starting to understand the lesson my tea teacher was trying to teach me, and I am certainly moving in the right direction with regards to tatting!


3 thoughts on “B comes before A

  1. Pattern: “Fourth Day of December” by L.B.
    Thread: Lizbeth by Handy Hands (cotton lace thread, size #80, colour #161 “Sea Island Citrus” – variegated light yellow, very light ocean turquoise, light lime green, and pale ocean teal)
    Size: about 6 centimetres or slightly less than 2 1/2 inches


  2. This is such simple wisdom and something I needed to hear today as I hurry through my writing practice. Slow down. Do simple things to the best of your ability.

    Your tatting is beautiful and to someone who knows naught about your craft, it looks superbly executed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just what I wanted to say, Susanne – but in much simpler words… I’m only a scribbler so my opinion may not mean much, but you write so beautifully, I personally see no reason for you to slow down! Hmm, could we be two of the harshest critics of our own works?
      I’m genuinely flattered by your compliment on this piece, though – it was an unexpected but much-appreciated reward for doing the best I could with it to make it look simply beautiful 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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