Last week, I took a pottery course through the Madison School & Community Recreation program with two of my former colleagues. Getting outside of my usual routine to try something new and creative was exactly what I needed on an (otherwise mundane) Wednesday evening.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a community that supported the arts and trade skills. The high school classroom next to the art studio with the pottery wheels was a technical drafting studio. We had pottery wheels in the art rooms from elementary school on, and I recall making small bowls and pots for my parents throughout my K-12 education.
Because of this experience, I thought I'd be natural on the wheel. I can still ride a bike after learning when I was eight or so, therefore I should be able to pick up throwing clay in the same way, right? Right?
Turns out, I was wrong. In an extremely humbling moment, I could barely get my clay centered on the wheel. Even after planting my arms on my knees to create support for myself, I still couldn't get past the basic aspects of the project.
I really wanted to give up. As a creative, I tend to want to give up on things when they are not easy or something of which I am not naturally inclined. Having the tenacity to continue on when things, creative or not, are difficult is a skill I am still learning. I pressed on, asking for help from our instructor, continuing to toss away the old clay for a new chunk, and trying again. And again. And again.
I never quite got the hang of pulling the clay upwards and somehow had the wheel spinning just a bit too slow or a bit too fast; I didn't have the correct speed for working the clay properly. Despite my self-perceived failures, I enjoyed the class so much and hope to sign up for an entire season of classes in the future.
I would be starting pottery classes this fall, but have decided on another skill to re-learn: ballet. I took dance classes from ages 3 to 11 and miss having something fun to learn. I'm planning on starting lessons again in October and know I won't be going in with any preconceived notions of how well, or poorly, I will be at the beginning. I will begin as myself. My happy, confident self.