Everything that I enjoy doing today came from deciding to try something new. Doing my favorite things reaffirms me as a person. However, staying firmly in my comfort zone keeps me from learning and growing.
It was time for me to intentionally journey into uncharted territory. I signed up for a ceramics class. My curiosity was stronger than my fear of failure. I wanted to learn how to use a potter’s wheel.
I was nervous and excited for my first class. I was horrified when the wedge of clay I was going to throw didn’t attach properly to the bat and hit my classmate in the chest when I set the wheel in motion. I was learning something new and I was terrible at it. I loved the challenge!
So many art forms are about finding your center. Finding your inner voice and vision is central to the creative process. This is the reason why making something is a meditative practice. Working with clay requires being perfectly centered. If the clay isn’t centered on the wheel, it will distort as it forms into a vessel. As you pull the clay upward and outward to form a piece, force must be applied evenly for it to be symmetrical. An unbalanced force pushing on the clay will shift the entire vessel and can destroy it.
I struggled to learn how to make ceramics. I couldn’t center the clay. I made some lopsided bowls and a few mugs that were too small to use for drinking coffee. I considered throwing them away.
A few months later I spotted some planters with a handmade, eclectic style that reminded me of my topsy-turvy pottery! I decided to keep my pieces and use them as planters for a succulent garden. I can accept and love their imperfection.
Things do not have to be perfect to be good. Life isn’t always balanced. We make mistakes. Outside forces impact us and shift the shape of our lives. Show me a perfect life. There’s no such thing. Imperfection is what makes our stories surprising and interesting. I’m still learning about life. As for ceramics, I’m just beginning. I’ll keep trying until I have (im)perfectly (un)centered clay.
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