(#1) Creating from Centre
I have been thinking about this blog site on my web page for some time…about a year ago I even tried to begin writing posts, I was able to get one together about pottery-wheel art. And after that first one, I wrote no more…until now.
There is so much I want to say in these following columns but mostly I want to be at my bravest and write with authenticity and vulnerability, knowing this is where my truest ideas come from.
An idea that has been percolating for me over the last year (maybe three), as I teach and create pottery myself, is the idea that working with clay is so much more than it seems. At first, I thought maybe I was the only one who saw this in their work… Could everyone else be doing something different? While I know that I run my classes a little differently than most of the local teachers around me, I realize now - I am not the only one.
A friend recently sent me a gorgeous post by contributor Jane Gross from "On Being", entitled: The clay will tell you how you are (read that article here). Some of my first thoughts as I read through this beautiful piece were: Yes, yes, yes…Exactly, exactly, exactly…and some more Yes, yes, yes after that. This was my first round of thoughts... I very quickly went on to a thought-train consisting of: "Oh Man!!! That's what I wanted to say!!! and Now What?!".
Luckily for me, I am already of the belief that this work is not actually about me... (sometimes I am sure I am barely involved!) When its really clear, it allows me to move quickly to the place where I simply know - I am not alone. And this thought, is nothin' but the good stuff.
About 4-5 years ago I was a pottery student and had an incredible teacher who is now a very dear friend. My favourite thing about her was that you could feel how humble and relaxed she was as a person/potter and it translated so well to the students she taught. After I had been in her class for months and was getting fairly proficient at the craft, there was one night things didn't go so well. That night I knew I wasn't in a great head-space. Before I had even arrived I thought to myself, maybe I shouldn't go and instead spend some time working this out. I then thought - but pottery ALWAYS makes me feel better! I promptly decided pottery class could FIX my problems and I barrelled downstairs with my most-likely-unattainable goal. I got to potting and for the life of me, nothing would 'work'! I couldn't make the big bowls I was working on, I couldn't make small bowls, or mugs, or plates…nothing! Every time something would 'fail' I would be visibly (and audibly) frustrated. I was no doubt gaining pity/annoyance from my classmates as they worked on their own pieces and hopelessness from my teacher as she tried to suggest the 'typical' things that might have worked. I am pretty sure I can remember her saying a couple of times that "sometimes it just wasn't our night"…which I readily ignored because of course - I had paid for this night and I was fine(!) and I WOULD MAKE POTTERY!
As you may have guessed, none of my apparent goals were achieved that night. I left early after finally listening to my teacher's advice. I didn't feel awesome that night but worst of all, I felt like somehow I had failed as a student, failed as a potential potter, failed to be successful at all! If I couldn't work through one bad night, how could I ever do this thing for real? Not to mention the slew of thoughts that followed like, I am never going to be an artist, I am just BAD at creativity, and so on. Oh, if I knew then what (I am pretty sure) I know now…:)
Now I realize - it is so much more simple than that messy night I wrote about above…(Which, for the record, I do NOT regret).
Imagine that night and my 'accomplishments' had absolutely NO baring on who I am or what I can be.
Imagine being gentle and accepting whatever happens as it is, without trying to change, modify or force it.
Imagine bringing awareness to the moment of struggle, to the moment of expectation and taking it at face value with less weight on our own self worth.
Imagine breathing…breathing more or deeper or both.
Imagine falling in love with the so-called imperfections of whatever your hands made that night…curvy or smooth; tall or flat; lopsided or not...
Imagine that every time, it is magic.
The clay indeed tells us how we are…but after that, its up to us to accept it… with love, kindness and the gentle heart we offer to so many others…allow yourself to be given this same gift. The truth is - you're worth it.
Thank you so much for reading, Meg