I went to my first pottery class today. I’ve been wanting to make my own bowls and mugs for so long now, and my mom gave me a gift certificate for Choplet ceramics studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn awhile back. I finally booked the class, which felt so fitting, since my new goal is to connect with the Earth more. :)
Also, after all this writing, I was excited to get my brain and hands working in a way that didn’t involve my computer.
The pottery class was awesome, and I got to make 2 really beautiful bowls. I get to pick them up in 2 weeks, all fired and glazed and ready to use!
To get those 2 beautiful bowls, I had to go through about 6 different balls of clay. In fact, I’d consider myself to be one of the “slowpokes” of the class when it came to getting the hang of the pottery wheel. All that coordination and precision…
The first ball of clay turned out to be a total mess. The 2nd one was perfect. The 3rd one? A disaster. The 4th one was great, but I had to do a lot of “editing.” The 5th and 6th were pretty much unrecognizable as anything but lumps of dirt.
Each clay ball that didn’t become a bowl had to be put into a separate bucket. By the end of the class, everyone in the class had made 2-3 very pretty bowls, but the “didn’t work out” bucket was filled to the top.
It got me thinking about success. Usually, when we’re observing the success of others, we only see the finished product.
What we don’t usually see is the “didn’t work out” bucket.
“I forget when I get awards now, the wave I had to ride.” -Ed Sheeran, Eraser
I think we forget about this a lot, especially with social media only showing the highlight reel of people’s lives. Rarely do we see behind the scenes. Rarely do we get a peek inside the most-likely-filled-to-the-brim “didn’t work out” bucket.
Which is why I’ve always loved the phrase, “don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” Comparing how you feel on the inside to how someone’s “success” looks online is a serious miscalculation.
“Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy and scared. Even the people who seem to have it most together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” –Anne Lamott in this TED talk
Here’s an example picture of a “didn’t work out” bucket of clay, from this article on ceramics lingo. “Reclaim is recycled clay; the excess clay that runs off a potter’s wheel can be gathered and reused. We throw all this sloppy, juicy clay into big buckets and then I mix it up with dry materials until it’s back to the consistency of clay again. The reclaim tends to be one of the nicer clays. It gets better with time.”
Did you hear that? They said the “didn’t work out” bucket gets reclaimed and recycled and mixed with other materials…and becomes even better with time!!! :)
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” -Henry Ford
So if you feel discouraged about having to throw something into the “didn’t work out” bucket, remember, that “failure” will be recycled and will become better with time. It will make YOU better with time. And it only gives you more wisdom for your next attempt. Wisdom that you didn’t have before.
Here’s another awesome TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on the success, failure and the drive to keep creating.
Actually, in my opinion…persistence IS success.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”
“By putting your head down and performing with diligence and devotion and respect and reverence whatever the task is that love is calling forth from you next – you just do that, and keep doing that again and again and again, and I can absolutely promise you, from long personal experience in every direction…I can assure you that it’s all going to be okay. ”
No matter how defeated you may feel in this moment, pick up another ball of clay (or two) and get back at it.
You’re already a masterpiece.