As I’ve alluded to before in past posts on rock climbing, part of why I’m drawn to climbing is because it’s all about me. Yes, your belayer is an integral part of your safety and is (hopefully) a big supporter of your success, but it is your movement, strength, focus, and technique that ultimately produce the experience. Team sports are fun (I love me a good game of kickball), but activities like rock climbing, as I’ve said before, allow for a sense of ownership and empowerment, and it genuinely ties mind and body together. And, it really is a creative sport.
I have a new hobby that is, well, also all about me. Although a bit less dangerous and a bit less strenuous than rock climbing, pottery takes a single mind’s focus and creativity. Like climbing, you begin with a solid surface, a ball of clay that needs to be moved, shaped, and designed into a route that follows your creativity. And like climbing, pottery is hard.
During my first pottery class, I received some wisdom from my instructor as I struggled to center the clay on my wheel: “Liz, make that clay your bitch.” Well said, Laura. I crouched over my ball of clay like a linebacker and forced my 108 pounds of body weight onto the spinning wheel until the clay stopped fighting the movement and became at peace with the wheel. “Ah, ha!” I yelled. And as soon as I lifted my hands off “my bitch,” that ball of clay rapidly bulleted off the wheel and left, well, quite a mess …
But, eventually I learned a technique that worked for me, and my clay stayed on the wheel. And soon after, that ball of clay turned into an almost-round pot. And soon after that, I had a few almost-round pots. And now, six weeks later, I have six almost-round pots and one giant beer stein (which was supposed to be a coffee mug).
Although my pots are far from perfect and certainly do not scream beauty, they emblemize a project and process. Like climbing, you start with nothing but tools and you end with an accomplishment. Hobbies are important. Even if it takes you longer than anyone to “make that clay your bitch,” you will do it. And it will be yours.