Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Great Aunt Vera was an eccentric creative being who molded clay into unique forms and coloured canvases with striking shapes influenced by post expressionism. Her living space was a mixture of studio chaos and modernity in fire glazed earth tones and blues. She herself seemed like a combination of whismy and serious intent. Her art was her passion. Her passion fed her lifestyle. As a child, I was intrigued by this woman who was so different than anyone else in my young life. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be a potter.

Aunt Vera fueled my dream just by being. I can't ever remember telling her directly that it was my intention to follow in her path, to use my hands to create the designs formulating in my own imagination. I'm sure I talked incessantly about it with my Mom and I most likely talked about my desires with my Grandma, both creative thinkers themselves. When anyone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, my answer was always........."I want to be a potter."

The pictures in my head were clear. I saw myself living that dream, smack dab in the middle of my own studio turning a chunk of clay into my own masterpiece. Even the idea of having my clothes smeared in dried remnants, and my fingernails chipped and permanently greyed by my craft seemed romantically blissful.

If I closed my eyes, I could see the wheel spinning, my hands and fingers maneovering and squeezing the soft substance into a shape as I sprinkled drops of water to moisten the earth....to bring it alive as I sculpted. I could imagine mixing the colours.....my own signature blends to capture the piece in a glazed essence. I could feel the orange heat of the kiln and how it blasts out energy when the door is opened to slide the work in progress into its magic..... once just a seeded thought in my imagination into a finished product someone may covet as their own. Fired just at the right temperature, for just the right amount of time.

So, it was with great enthusiasm that I signed up for a pottery class in high school, feeling like it was the first step to a great career. I learned the basics....coils, slabs, free molding. I learned about making sure the clay was free of air bubbles while using your own handheld heat to warm it into a suppleness of potential. I had my turn using the wheel, pumping its speed with my foot on the pedal, learning quickly what happens when too much water is adding to the mix. I learned how to use my thumb to smear creases, and to pinch designs.....to round off the opening of vessels. I learned about shape and size and colour and balance....what is pleasing to the eye and what doesn't.

And I learned quickly how much I sucked at it. Every single project looked the same....a mess. Not a damn thing I tried to make ever looked like it did in my imagination! My career as a famous potter crashed and burned before I ever reached the kiln!

Best intentions, seemingly reachable dreams sometimes don't make it to the final end product. In fact, it can feel like you're the victim of a hard slap to the face. There often comes a point when one has to accept this unfortunate reality and learn how to let go and move on. However, it's so easy to hold onto something, even to cling to it blindly because we wont allow ourselves to recognize its not a good fit. Its not working for us.....that we failed. If we choose to continue moving forward with the same intent....the same picture in our heads of what we want, we end up tripping over and over again like someone has tied our converse shoelaces together without our noticing. It becomes a burden, a cross to carry.

Unrequited intentions, the more serious and complicated ones in our lives, (ones that are WAY more serious than my short lived career as a famous potter) can quickly turn into a cross eyed monster feeding on the endless self talk messages of failure. Before we know it, we've wasted so much time wallowing and obsessing that we lose our way back to the path of discovery. And when that happens, we lose our confidence.....we lose ourselves in the crash and burn of self injurious thought and action. We feel ugly and useless.

So, how do we stop this echoing madness ............ how do we unhook from intent gone awry?

Step back .... reflect ..... let go .... forgive ..... atone ...... smile ...... breathe ..... adjust ....... push away old limitations ..... unlatch from guilt and failure .... share your story so it has words and legs to walk away on its own ... seek out someone to help guide you to a place of reflection .... take what you can from the experience and use what you've learned .... and constantly refresh yourself by returning to the place where possibilities dwell.....where new intentions are forming into doable dreams.

Where is that dwelling? It's in the centre of your heart where God is hiding. You'll find Him working on a piece of clay. He's got the knack for creating.


JP/deb said...

Sharing your story ... sharing the words of hope - maybe not for what you imagined, but for what you can now see - maybe that is one of the gifts. Peace & love, JP/deb

Scarlet said...

But in learning how terrible I was at one thing forced me to think outside of the neat little box I had created, and that is where I learned true artistry and creativity.
It may not be the grandiose dream I once cherished, but it comes awful damn close.

Wonderful post ... excellent insight and clarity.

Awareness said...

Deb...I think it is the true gift. New awareness is always a gift isn't it? Though it may feel like a curse at first.

Scarletina....oh, me too....more often than I care to think about!!

glad you liked the post....this one wrote itself!!! go figure! :)

Brother David said...

Now you see; pushing away ones limitations is where I fall down in this creativity lark. I struggle getting past the first pecile line or brush stroke; it keeps getting rubbed out - Not right...

Awareness said...

David...its funny you should write that... my son presented a half drawn picture to me last night that he had to complete for art class. this is not his forte and in fact art seems to paralyze him. He was afraid to make a mistake. It was an assignment on shading and depth but this wasn't explained to him properly so he didn't have a clue what was expected or if he could do it. I tried to describe it in more concrete terms....but even after he could see it in his head, the translate it onto paper was still daunting.
gee...somehow the homework got done. :)

Wendy said...

What a beautiful post. And I can so relate to your pottery experience. Not so far as being a potter when I grew up or having a relative who was a potter, I just thought I'd like it.
But when I tried - I sucked as well. And I hated that sore back I got from bending over the potter's wheel.
Ah well - life goes on, doesn't it?

Awareness said...

Wendy...its funny looking back on the stumbling we do when trying to discover where we are headed with careers and hobbies....personally i'm still trying to figure it out. I guess we all are. :)