I don’t know if I have mentioned this before in this blog, but these days I define myself as a potter. In the past I have been a soldier, and after that a computer forensic examiner, but now I am a potter. Yes, I suppose it is true that I have still not decided what I want to be when I grow up — if indeed I ever do (grow up, that is) — but I am quite happy with my life and the way it is turning out.
After spending so many years in high pressure environments, which I thrived in, I am surprised to find myself completely absorbed with my new largely inner focus. Clay is just mud in slightly cleaned up form, and mud is the stuff of stars that has been ground up from cosmic and planetary forces over the course of billions of years. Though it sounds dramatic to say so, I actually do feel a thrill every time I sit at the wheel and shape a piece of this celestial material. And when it goes to the kiln, I think of that as a token return to the vast forces that spawned it. It is at once humbling and uplifting. Think of it — a piece of a star becoming a mashed potato bowl! It really boggles the mind.
My circle of friends now includes lots of other potters, a true artsy-fartsy bunch that generally eschews convention, dresses and adorns their bodies as they please, and is not afraid to espouse opinions far out of the mainstream. I am finding that artists tend to see the world very much the same way children do — unfiltered, a place of limitless wonder. These artists are relentlessly critical of their own work, but they tend to see only beauty and inspiration in the work of others. I would have thought they would tend to judge other potters harshly, since they clearly have an eye for perfection in their own work. But they do not. In fact, they celebrate as artistic variation that which the artist thinks of as flawed rendering.
As usual, I am taking forever to get to my point. At our last raid — the truly painful one I described in my last post — one of our best raiders expressed great disgust with his own performance. He had, so he said, made two stupid mistakes that were the cause of wipes, and he apologized to everyone for it. He did not go overboard with the apology, but you could tell he was really beating himself up over it. For most of us, it would have been a vast personal improvement if we had made only two raid-wiping mistakes that night.
WoW is just a leisure activity, a game, but I know I for one tend to bring an artistic eye to it, and I judge my own actions far more harshly than others judge them. It is one thing to try always to do our best and improve, it is another to continually berate ourselves for every small mistake or poor decision. I think I am lecturing mainly myself on this, but maybe some of you can see yourselves in it also.
It is a game. Have fun with it. Celebrate all your “artistic variations”.
Be excellent to yourself. Be awestruck knowing that mashed potato bowl is made from stars.
See you on the other side of the weekend.