I went to class in the midst of a mild crisis over a tepid reception a gift of the pitcher had received. The same old self-doubt, wrapped around wounds suffered at the hands of disinterested parents and uncaring peers. All the thoughts that helped me sabotage violin and voice, theater, team sports, and even my academic career, rattled in my head as I walked through the parks...
Maybe I’m just fooling myself in thinking that I’ll ever be any good at this.
What’s the point of pouring my self so deeply into something if no one notices?
If something means so much to me and so little to someone else, maybe I’m wrong for feeling the way I do?
(As a side note, I’m not attempting to lay blame or inspire guilt. It is simply reflective of the things that were in my head last night and of my emotional baggage. As I do this, I leave myself fairly vulnerable, so I need to understand where these feelings come from and develop a thicker skin. As much as I may hope, I have no right to expect a particular reaction from something I create.)
When So- came in we sat down and talked about what happened, how I reacted, and how I was feeling. She just looked at me and said, "Well you’re staying."
At about that point, Kim came over and asked what I was interested in seeing. I asked for pointers about throwing from the hump and what, exactly, you could do with hollow forms. As we talked about donuts, I caught sight of the photo of an ikebana arrangement in a really unusual vase and realized that I could make one much like it. That was a moment of epiphany. I spent weeks puzzling over how something like it could possibly be done and here it was. I have been initiated into the deeper mysteries. Everything else I had carried to class with me got shut out.
I spent a full three hours making one sake cup after another, looking for a shape that I was happy with and that I could reproduce. Some of my classmates started ribbing me encouragingly, saying things like "Well, look at Mr. 'This is only my second class' and his army of cups..." I think I ended up speaking to more of my classmates last night than I had since I started going to this studio. Something shifted radically. I moved into a space outside of my baseline low-grade depression into just being. I started laughing periodically out of sheer delight.
Once I met the wheel head, I threw another lump of clay on and made my first donut. It seemed so simple to create the form. Every step was guided by some sort of crazy energy that guided my hands and my mind. It wasn’t until I was nearly finished that I realized that my hands were shaking.
Coming out of class, I felt the same sort of fatigue and euphoria I used to feel coming out of kung fu.