She stopped short at the door of my studio where I was covered from head to toe with glaze dust. This is a normal scenario for me. Whenever I’m looking my absolute worst, people get the most interested in what I’m making.
She was a lawyer from California and been a guest at our inn before, but had somehow missed this glamorous step in the pottery production process. I swiped my hand on my sweatpants and beckoned her in.
She looked doubtful “I don’t know. I don’t think I belong in here.” Half-cough half-laugh. I assured her it was not sacred ground, only a creative disaster space. She looked at the jars of chemicals lined up on the shelf. Titanium dioxide. Zirconium. Kaolin.
“Was it scary?” she asked. “Scary making the change and coming here?” I assured her it was scary as hell. She thought about this. ”So why did you do it if it pushed you back so hard?” I could see wheels turning inside her head.
I laughed.”Well, once you start checking in on exactly what it is that’s going to make you happy, and you make baby steps in that direction, you end up realizing that you’re on a path that’s going to have its way with you.”
She nodded. “Which is why most people don’t even start.” I agreed. She continued, “But did you ever feel stumped and tired after you started, like it was all too much, like you couldn’t keep going?”
I considered this. And of course, the answer was yes. In the middle of a sea of change, a wall of inertia in the form of fear can rise up and knock a person completely off course, causing all kinds of second guessing and self-doubts and negating everything. It’s terrifying and it happens at the most inopportune time, it seems. But fear forces us to grapple with our own limits, with what’s not working in our new reality. It’s there for a purpose – not to control our behavior and cause us to run away, but to check our critical boundaries and make sure that we’re stretching them but not destroying ourselves on the way to living the lives we want.
The lawyer looked at me.”Whenever I think about quitting my job, which I do just about every day, I get this sense of numbness inside and this inertia takes over. It’s like I can’t see that there could be a future if I stopped lawyering. Which scares the hell out of me.”
“What do you want to do?” I asked.
“You’ll laugh,” she said. I assured her I wouldn’t.
“I’d love to have a little pottery studio and a couple of B&B rooms somewhere.” That did make me laugh. “See, I told you,” she smiled. “Don’t worry, I’m not stalking you. I don’t even know how to make a damn pot. Plus I’d like to do it in Northern California. Whatever.” She shook it off, as if saying the words brought the dream so near that it might hurt her.
“You know,” I put my hands on my hips. “When you first came in here you told me you didn’t think you belonged here.” Her eyes were starting to well up. I continued softly. “Maybe this is exactly where you belong and you’re just fighting your fear, uh, your inertia, of leaning into the possibility.”
I reached up and grabbed a little bag of glaze I had put aside over a year before. It was one of my standards that works well time after time. I pressed it in her hand. “Here,” I said. “When you go back to the states and find yourself a ceramic school to train at, tell them you want to glaze your first pot with this. Remember, Counselor, there’s nothing you can’t do. Nothing.” She looked down.
Then I went in for the kill. “Which is more soul killing, staying where you are, thinking there can’t be a life after lawyering or actually moving forward with your plan and seeing where it leads you? You don’t have to answer me. But think about it.”
She rolled down the hill towards the airport a few days later. As she got in the car, she held up the packet of glaze for me to see, gave me a fist pump and threw me a kiss.
Go to blazes, inertia. Change is coming, one baby step at a time.
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