Last year I decided I wanted new and matching plates, bowls, and mugs. I looked around for ones that delighted me and decided after much fruitless searching, that I would take ceramics and learn to make my own. Now, the last time I did ceramics was probably in Kindergarden so I really had no idea what I was signing up for. I just knew that, like most everything in my life, I feel most nourished when I pour my artistry into the things around me – even if it takes a long time.
This past month I finally got around to taking a ceramics class and last week we had our introduction to the pottery wheel. My instructor, Debbie, made it look as easy as pie and whipped out a perfect bowl in minutes. As she worked, she kept emphasizing: It’s got to be centered or it’s going to topple over and once it’s off center, you have to get it back to center before you can continue or it just won’t work. She demonstrated ways to re-center by shifting the entire mound of clay, reworking areas that protruded beyond the base to be in alignment, or by simply cutting off a top part that had become irreversibly wonky.
As the wheel of change keeps on spinning in my life, especially with summer gradually shifting into fall, I’ve spent this past week experimenting with applying this bit of ceramics-infused wisdom to my life. It is resoundingly clear to me that I can only go as fast as the pace of what I can do and stay centered. In fact, the more centered I am, the faster I can go. But, when I try to move forward when I feel out of balance, I start feeling anxious and unclear and lose my ability to engage in what I’m doing in a quality way. If I keep trying to push on while in this state, eventually, like the mound of clay on the pottery wheel, I get completely stuck and have to come to a full halt, regroup, and start over.
With this in mind, I’ve been taking a moment here and there to pause and focus my attention throughout the day. Long pauses are great, ecstatic at times even, but a minute or two can make a drastically positive difference. I took a full inventory of the threads I’m holding and organized and prioritized them so that the various currents of processes can flow at an easier, more measured pace. This was an excellent mental purge and very relaxing. I also see that there are some things that I need to let go of or put off until another time as they don’t fit with what else is on my plate right now.
So if you, like me, are someone who has a tendency to find yourself at the edge (instead of the center) of the Merry-Go-Round with your head spinning a bit from moving faster and having taken on more than you can do and stay in balance, give this dollop of pottery wheel wisdom a try in your life. Come back to center, put into order what’s on your plate, and simplify where you can. You will feel so much lighter and freer to go with the flow.