April 19, 2005

Where does the ending meet the beginning?

It’s certainly not profound to say that life is really a series of endings and beginnings. But there – I said it anyway. Last night, I went to Raku class. But to call it a “class” is really a misnomer - basically, for the mere fee of $100/month that includes all materials and firings, I rent studio space from a local artist and play with clay once a week. It all started in the fall of 2000 when I took a community class with this artist. My first attempts at pottery were clunky at best and I still can only make very simple forms (I only hand build – no wheelwork). However, raku was never just about the pottery. It was about the experience of taking a hunk of clay, toying with it for an hour or so – all while learning the other artists’ life stories, hopes, dreams, and disappointments

In 2000, my life seemed to be at an ending – I had spent the whole year suffering from a wrenching heartbreak at the hands of Asshole #2 and I was working at a job that I loved – but I was working ridiculous hours and had no life. I had no idea where I was going emotionally and professionally so I started taking community classes to try and explore life again. While basket weaving was interesting and making a wreath enjoyable, nothing grabbed my soul like raku and a big part of it had to be the community of gals that spent every Monday evening together. When I first started raku, the dustiness and clay under my nails would drive me crazy. The disorganization of the studio irritated me. The artists were very non-materialistic, in contrast to my extreme yuppie exterior. I would carefully change my clothes beforehand as to not get them dirty. Over time, things changed. I got more comfortable with all the confusion and dirt. The craziness of the studio became a sanctuary for me after many a nutty Monday. I stopped changing from my work clothes and just made sure to wear something washable. We all got such a kick out of newbies looking at me in my dress clothes in astonishment – but it was a testament to how clay is really from the earth! Finally, when I first began raku, I was pretty conservative and voted Republican in that year’s election. By 2004, I had turned more liberal and actually voted Democrat for the first time in my life.

2000 ended on a much brighter noted than it had began. I was crawling out of my shell and discovering new ideas, people and interests. I also met a guy named X. I still can’t believe how incredibly fortunate I am to have met someone so compatible and perfect for me. Nearly 2 married years later and I am still amazed.

Last night at Raku, the artist in charge told me she would be closing the studio. While I knew I would give up raku for some time with the baby coming along, it still hit me like a thunderbolt. There was something comforting to me knowing that even if I couldn’t be at the studio, others would still be there. The bigger message, of course, is that so many other things in my life are about to change and this is only the beginning.

Ultimately, the irony of raku is that while I learned learn so much about the other gals in the studio, I also found out a bit about myself. I can triumph from the pits of disappointment and sadness. I can get my hands dirty without my stomach turning. I can stand in a complete disorderly mess and still find an inner calm that allows me create a piece that reflects this calm inside of me. And I can make something from a lump of nothing.

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