Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Letting Go

It was 6:15 p.m. and I was sitting on the patio with Scott and Seiren, trying to relax. On this beautiful afternoon, we left work early and headed to a large outdoor patio for a beer.

But it was getting late. Pottery starts at 6:30 p.m.

I signed up for pottery through the school board’s continuing education program and I take the class at the local high school. To be honest, it wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to take “Writing for Beginners” or “Intro to Drama” but both were cancelled due to lack of community interest.

So pottery it was.

At about 6:05 p.m. I declared that I wasn’t going to let myself get stressed about an activity that was supposed to be for the purposes of stress relief and for exploring my creative side.

“Whatever, I’ll be late. It won’t matter. The teacher usually does the demonstration late anyway.”

This was true.

Our pottery teacher, who thus far had been pickled-drunk every class, would usually stumble in about half an hour late, begin a demo, and halfway through would say:

“Well, you get the picture. I don’t wanna waste any more of your time. Go to it team!”

And with that she would excuse herself to go outside to flirt with the school janitor.

But in spite of my commitment to laidbackness, I had begun to guzzle my Corona and started to calculate how long it would take me to get to the pottery studio.

Before long I was semi jogging up the street towards the school.

I arrived, sweaty, breathless, fifteen minutes late, to find that I had not yet missed anything.

All the students were sitting silently with their blocks of clay in front of them. Even though we all stuck our fingers in the same sludgy slip pot, we had not managed to break through our collective social awkwardness. We all made pinch pots in silence.

There was a new student in the class, T. He had a perfect upturned nose, wore dark eyeliner, and spoke with graceful gestures of his hands. Our teacher took an instant, but unsettling, liking to him.

Our teacher loudly welcomed the new student:

“Welcome, T. This week we’re making mold bowls and next week we’re making goblets, and I know you have good use for those!”

I think she was meaning to give him a joking nudge on the shoulder, but she missed and ended up sort of stumbling into him.

T’s face turned pink.

Aside from concern about missing the demonstration, I was also concerned that I arrive at class early enough so that I could make an incense holder. I had been designing it in my head all week.

We all sprung into silent and intense pottery action.

But my incense holder was not coming along as planned. In fact, it was a downright monstrosity.

I felt a tinge of stress as I looked at my utterly failed creation.

But then it just struck me as incredibly funny and I began to laugh. A number of my fellow students gathered around me to see what I was finding so funny.

“Well,” said T who was speaking while pouring all his soul into smoothing out his bowl “You are lucky to be comfortable with asymmetry. I’m so damn perfectionist that [smooth] I can’t even relax [smooth] until [smooth] everything is [smooth] perfectly symmetrical [smooth].”

“I’m just happy to be here,” said the girl with dark Gucci frames who had made a minor monstrosity of her own, “I’ve been meaning to take pottery for three years but investment banking doesn’t leave much time for creativity.”

Then the class prodigy came to join the discussion. She explained that she comes by her sculptural abilities honestly. She is a professional cake designer. I asked her what the strangest cake she ever created looked like. It was for a baby shower and was a woman giving birth. Made in chocolate.

She exclaimed how refreshing it was to be able to simply create without having to worry about the taste of her creation.

And then I thought about the beer I had consumed before this class. And I thought about our inebriated pottery teacher. I realized that even in her drunken absence, our teacher [prophet?] was bestowing her deep knowledge upon us:

The key to an enjoyable pottery experience is letting go. And the key to letting go is alcohol.


Blogger seiren said...

if i had known this tidbit of wisdom in grade 5, a couple of shots of rye after gym class would have made all my afternoon art class creations living-room-shelf-worthy like my sister's. insteadm when i gave them to my mum she said "oh thats lovely, hunny" and promptly shoved them in the hall closet. oh alcohol -- where were you in my children when i needed you most?

12:17 PM  

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