Be excellent to yourself

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.

Rim and handle not symmetrical,
texture looks dorky

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.


Too thick and heavy,
handle too short,
glaze went wonky

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.

5 thoughts on “Be excellent to yourself

  1. I am my own worse critic. I see comments in officer chat during raids. Discussions about benching someone for the evening because they are having an off night and their DPS is below the 900k they need to be doing, and I look at how I am performing and how much lower I am than someone that wants to be in there. And I pass on offers to go. Because I feel like I am going to do badly and people will feel like I’m only there because I’m the GM. We are all our own worse critics when it comes to our own things. I have dropped 30,000g buying one high end piece of gear for someone else so they can raid. But will question spending 500g on myself. We all have flaws I guess. Even knowing so doesn’t make it easier.

  2. I can see myself in it, no doubt. I have no words of wisdom, really, just, awareness on every day actions and words one speaks, helps. Sometimes, it’s almost grotesque to be aware and really witness, how cruel we can be to ourselves compared to other people. Press on, heroes 🙂

  3. “These artists are relentlessly critical of their own work, but they tend to see only beauty and inspiration in the work of others” — the great thing about artists is they tend to be honest. They don’t lie because they have to constantly and honestly evaluate their own work and process and technique and all that other stuff. By far, the finest people on the planet.

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