“It’s the kind of ending you don’t really want to see. ‘Cause it’s tragedy and it’s only gonna bring you down. Now I don’t know what to be without you around.” – TS
Things look a lot different now that I’m dead. Like it’s abundantly clear that just when I think it’s time to start thinking about stopping throwing and stop procrastinating on getting that first batch started into the bisque, it’s probably already long overdue. I should have started stopping a while ago.
And I can see how this group of new porcelain pots, stacked in various stages of drying, under plastic, all over the studio, is actually starting to get pretty good. There are some in there I’ll be genuinely excited to push through the kilns. (Or that I would have been excited about, you know, sans the whole untimely death thing.)
And I can see how sometimes new tools are like a new lease on life; a re-start with the lenses of perception freshly Windexed; a chance to fall in love again from scratch, with something quite familiar and yet just different enough to feel extraordinary.
Sorry, old carving tools. You guys are out. This new one is the bomb.
“I’m sorry, sorry, sorry, oh oh.”
Anyways, I think it’s good to imagine your own death sometimes. Not in a ‘suicidal ideation’ kind of way. Not, “If you need me I’ll be out in the deep snow.” Instead, I mean in the sense of, “If this day, or this evening’s work session, or this pot just so happened to be my last, how would I feel about that? What would I do differently if I could see that coming? And, even though I probably won’t croak for another 40-60 odd years (emphasis on “probably” and “odd”), what do I want to have done and become by then? Which pots would I ideally like to be my last, and why?”
That kind of thing.
“Never wanted this, never want to see you hurt.”
I also really liked that image of death by drowning in a bucket of slip; not sure why I imagined that so vividly or where it came from. Spooky. Picture that drying white mask of porcelaneous clay, slowing cracking apart as I fade, fade away. Dust to dust.
”’Cause you know it’s never simple, never easy. For a clean break — no one here to save me.”
And that idea prompts the typical “do you have your affairs in order” thoughts. You know, the obvious ones, like: Do the people you love know it? Have you set up protections for your one and only child? Does someone have your master password?
Also the less obvious ones, like: What the hell would happen to this last batch of greenware if I wasn’t here to fire it? Does anyone else know where I hide the key to the lawnmower? If god is a woman, does that mean there will be more or less time for pottery in heaven; and also, does she like salt glaze?
You know, that kind of thing.
As for the pots that’d be left behind — speaking of having a plan or getting my affairs in order — how cool would it be to make a mutual pact with a few fellow potters; either in the eventual case when one of us ships off to the great kiln shed in the sky, or, more mundanely and more likely in the short term, explodes a lumbar disc or succumbs to the complications of early onset silicosis… A pact where whoever’s left and still firing takes the unfired, unfinished stuff and gives it that last push to completion. (Hmm… maybe all of this was prompted by lasering in on that Michael Simon interview and obsessing over the quotes I wrote down. The idea of stopping before you’re ready; of having things left to say; of having your flow of pots stopped mid-stream.)
For me, it’d be great to know that if this was the last group of pots I ever made — or the next batch, or the batch a hundred more batches after that — that some of them, the most promising ones, at least, would get shipped off to ChangeMaster RP, to tuck into the dry spots in his kiln. Or to MK, maybe even with his vines and blooms layering over my geometric dominos and newfound obsession with carved lines; how great to have some of my final work once again tuned to the earth’s magnetic poles from the hallowed ground of Penland, NC? And, of course, to Witt; to see how they’d look in mid-range electric — his glazes flowing over my deco instead of the other way ‘round this time — and maybe to beg/borrow/steal space in one of the local wood kilns on my behalf, to give them one last hurrah like the old days.
If I died tomorrow, I’d regret that I never got back to wood.
“Every little bump in the road I try to swerve.”
But no; in case you’re worried or something; I’m not dying. At least, not now; not that I know of. This isn’t a too-subtle declaration of that. My newly-nine-year-old just said the classic kid thing to me last night — “I hope you die after me, someday, Dada”. Which is precious and heartbreaking in its innocence, and a bump you really can’t just swerve to avoid; both of those things at once. I’m glad I didn’t really trip on that cord, into that slip.
So it goes. So it goes.
“You’re the only thing I know like the back of my hand.”