Do you remember that I took a pottery class two years ago?
It was on Monday mornings for 10 weeks in a row. The basics. We learned some on the wheel, all about glazing, and I hand-built a turtle.
It was…not fun.
After giving it my all for 10 weeks, I still couldn’t get my dang clay centered. Which means that everything I tried to do after was all wobbly. (Have you ever tried throwing on a wheel? The key to all of it is centering)
Yes! This is where we enter the metaphor section of this blog because OF COURSE this is life too.
We try to jump in and DO THE THINGS, but if we aren’t starting from a place of center, it all feels wobbidy. No matter how hard we try, push, grunt, and groan.
No matter how badly we want it to work.No matter how much muscle we put into it.
No matter how much grit, courage, bravery, and resilience we bring to the table. If we start off-center, things will always feel…off.
If it’s not centered, no amount of effort will fix it during the build phase.
You can’t fight your way to center.
You can’t work harder to get to center.
You can’t power through to center.
Siiiiiiiigh. Trust me, I tried.
Here’s the thing about that pottery class: I hated going. And, because I’ve been walking this walk for so long, I did a whole lot of inquiry around why.
Did I not like it because I wasn’t good at it?
Did I not like it because I couldn’t progress past Step 1?
Did I not like it because pottery wasn’t my jam?
Regardless, I kept going. Kept showing up. Kept sitting myself down at the wheel, taking deep breaths, and doing everything I could to get that clay centered.
Spoiler alert: Turns out I just needed more instruction…keep reading…
Fast forward to last month: things here are starting to open up a bit more, and now that I’m fully vaccinated, I’m feeling more comfortable doing things out in the world.
A friend asked if I wanted to join her at a new backyard pottery studio that’s started doing classes in town.
A Thursday evening. 90 minutes.
Did I want to come and throw a bowl?
Absolutely! I had no idea how it was going to go, so I got super curious:
I went. And it was delightful. (Seriously: my cheeks hurt from smiling at the end of the night.)
Was it delightful because I made a perfect bowl? Nope.
It was delightful because I got the right kind of help for what I wanted to do, and it turns out that when you get your clay centered, everything else becomes easier.
The combination of setup and rainy throwing-outside conditions meant that there were 2 instructors for just 3 students, which allowed me to ask all my questions and have a teacher show me how things were supposed to feel.
Yep! Another metaphor! In my first class, the instructor just kept telling me what to do.
But with clay (with life!), the feeling of things matters so much. So much. The feeling is essential to getting things built.
Here’s the other thing…
The whole time I was taking my initial 10-week class, I kept asking myself all-or-nothing questions:
Do I like this?
Do I not like it?
Should I go to class?
Should I skip class?
Is pottery amazing?
Does pottery suck rocks?
I was dancing in the either/or when I really needed to be asking a whole different set of questions, liiiiike:
…and approaching my “do I like pottery?” inquiry from this perspective would have opened everything up. Like whoa.
(And, this is what living in full, radiant Technicolor is all about!)
The best part of all? I walked away with a bowl!!!
Is it perfect? Nope.
But IT IS A BOWL. And I will use it every day. (I haven’t picked up the glazed + fired bowl yet, but I promise I’ll share a pic when I do!)
Luckily, it only took me 2 years to get here. And I’m stoked to say that I’ve already signed up for 2 more backyard pottery classes and am hoping to take another 10-week series this fall.
Here’s why I’m telling you this (beyond wanting to show off my bowl that I’m so proud of): my pottery redo felt like my own mini-version of a Grown-Up Gap Year.
It was fun! It was delightful! It was a feeling I wanted to memorize and inject into all my days, even the ones that didn’t include pottery.
This energy—this feeling—is what I want for all of us. And it’s exactly why I created Grown-Up Gap Year.
And if you have a love or hate relationship with pottery, please comment and let me know. I can relate to all of the feelings!
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