“I have a friend in town who is a potter, and one day he showed me how to make a pot. You start by slapping a lump of clay on the wheel and centering it so that it spins smoothly. To shape the clay, you press the spinning lump between your palms, gouge your thumbs into its center, and pull the whole mass toward you so the clay’s rotation is no longer centered on the wheel but on the space between your hands. Squeezing between thumb and fingertips, you pull upward from the base to rim, pulling the pot into form and then gently releasing it to spin smoothly on the wheel again. In a master’s hands, it takes 3 pulls to form a pot, and the hardest part is learning how to let the clay go each time. You must let go and let the clay find the center of the wheel; if you try to force it there, the pot will wobble.
There is a rhythm in our lives. We need the pulling, the striving, and we need to be shaped by life. We need to be de-formed so that we may return to form. For we are not angels but men of women of clay. All of us will be pulled off-center, we will be shaped by both disaster and delight. So we need to learn the art of returning home, returning to center, letting go of all that binds us too tightly to fear and hope, letting go of our attachment to both doom and reward, letting go of all that leaves us wobbling. When we learn to return home in this way, we will return bearing gifts.”
From the book, Learning to Fail by Philip Simmons.