I casually told my husband, "I want to take the evening pottery throwing class on campus." He said "But, that's not drawing." "Yeah, but I want to try it again. Plus, we get to etch and stuff on the pots." I grinned. He didn't object.
I logged into the enrollment page, then hesitated. "You're not a college kid anymore. It's expensive. You're busy. Think how awkward this will be. It's at supper time." A kind voice from the TV interrupted the cranky voice. Some guy was encouraging a friend to do as much as you can in this life. Ignore the fear and go for it. Okay already! I signed up and paid my tuition.
Last night, loaded to the gills with trepidation and jitters and such, I walked into the familiar yet foreign ceramics room I left in the mid 80's.
Brief introductions (name, major & year) by all. I was last. "I was a senior in 1987." Sheesh - none of these kids were even around then. There were two fun-loving older ladies in many of my college studio classes. I got a kick out of them, but they were "old." That's me now.
We gathered our supplies and sat down at the wheels. "I feel completely lost..." Yeah, I said that out loud to our professor, Linda. The unwieldy lump of clay bumped around under my hands as the wheel spun. It mocked my centering efforts. Good grief - why did I sign up for this again? My first pot was stumpy, lumpy and wiggly. Linda was very complimentary and told me it was similar to a certain style of Japanese pots. I can't remember the word she said, so I just went on a little google search. It may have been wabi-sabi, which is all about imperfection and not just pots. Anyway, I set my junior high pot aside and started on the next lump.
This time Josh, our graduate assistant teacher, watched my lop-sided beginning and recommended better hand positions and increasing the wheel speed. Suddenly, it was a little easier. I kinda' remember the feel of this now. I think I can do this. I kept pulling up the clay, not really sure if I should keep going or call it done. The clay decided for me. The thin sides did this odd flippy thing. Linda told me "It's beautiful just like that." Hmm, it was interesting. I put the floppy-topped form in the drying area and grabbed a big lump for another go round.
I took my time with the next one. The spinning form was much less bossy with my fingers. "I think you're remembering now." Yup. Oh, I most definitely am still a beginner, but at least I could shape the turning clay without it wobbling off on it's own.
Within a couple of hours, I'd traveled down my well-worn creative path - excitement, fear, doubt, irritation, realization, perseverance, in-the-groove-ness. I'm relieved to have moved beyond the first few stages - doesn't happen often enough. I imagine many people fight this when trying anything new, creative or not. It's too bad. LIVE your life. Don't be a spectator.
Next time - the first kick in the pants.