LESSONS FROM CLAY #1 EXPECT DISAPPOINTMENT AND FAILURE


Ceramic work can be an intense and deeply inward process. If porcelain was a cult, I'd be it's loyal devotee. I love it. I want to share with you the lessons I've learnt from working with that buttery stuff I squish between my fingers. The first lesson?

 #1 EXPECT DISAPPOINTMENT AND FAILURE

Ouch.

This morning when I opened the kiln to take a peek at my latest glaze firing, I saw 3 porcelain rings that had fallen and stuck themselves to the middle of the kiln shelf. Rings broken, kiln shelf buggered and my precious time wasted. Years ago, this would have pissed me off. Today, I’m surprised it even gets a mention is this blog.

This kind of shit happens all the time in pottery. Things explode, glazes drip, hard work fails. If you keep doing it, you get better at it, but doesn’t necessarily equal less failure. Things just sometimes go wrong. Not to mention each time you take on a new challenge, when the testing process can be full of failure and broken dreams. But the more you experience ‘things not turning out’, the quicker you recover from disappointment. It becomes just another part of the process.

Expecting 100% of everything I do to be total success is such an unrealistic expectation, yet at the beginning of my work with clay, this is how I thought. A few months of hard work, and a few entire kiln loads of disaster quickly shook that expectation down a notch (or ten). 

If we forget that failure can happen, we are shaken when it arrives. When we know it might show up at any given moment, if we truly know that its always a possibility, and understand  completely that our hard work, and our ideals about ourselves can crumble in the opening of a kiln door, then we are unafraid of it. We do it anyway, because Knowing that there is a risk of failure is part of the fun. There is no challenge in a predictably perfect outcome. That's so boring. Failure keeps you fresh.

Adapting this philosophy to other areas of my life, means that I am less aggravated by experiences that don't live up to my expectations. I expect a shit coffee 50% of the time, and enjoy it when I receive a perfect one. I expect customer service to be consistently bad, my food to arrive not exactly how I ordered it, I expect my telephone company will dick me around. I expect half of the things I do to work out, most of the people I know to disappoint me, and when that disappointment comes I can deal with it. When I fail at something I can learn from it. This doesn't mean I have to lower my standards, just be more realistic about how life truly is VS how I want it to be. 

Biting into that shitty floury apple is bound to happen, the question is what's your response to it?


3 comments:

  1. Love your work Mrs P, a good reminder in keeping it real.

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  2. Sorry about the rings but wish I had been given your post to read while I was still studying! It might have given me more confidence :)
    Persistence is needed to continue in the clay craft - not a bad life lesson either.
    May your next firing be all you would wish for ...

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  3. Thanks Anna & Peita. It's a bummer when those disappointments happen, but so good to put them in perspective, and to flick it off, like water from a ducks back!! Big lessons!! Cheers to that clay xx

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