“Why don’t you give yourself a rest? Oh, give yourself some room. You can’t get your arms ‘round everybody, you cannot carry the doom.” — A. A. Bondy
Back when I was uninterested in living, Saturday was just another hard day. Always fending off my family to rush off and grind in the studio. Always ignoring the screaming need to slow down and just float, to rush off and grind in the studio. Always reflexively skipping all the other possibilities to rush off and grind in the studio. Always believing I had to rush off and grind in the studio.
But yes, you’re right: of course many of those days had lovely, generative parts to them. It wasn’t all a slog. Rushing off to the pottery studio is a lot of people’s Dream idea of how to spend a Saturday. They long for it like I long for a constellation of red balloons overhead. Once I’d gotten past the initial resistence, there were plenty of good moments out there; especially until the caffiene wore off. I could get into it, and forget about the haze and the murk for awhile. Most Saturdays. I think most of them; but then again, maybe not.
And|or|however, the thing with pottery is you’ve gotta start it and then finish it; you’ve gotta start it to be able to finish it; you’ve gotta make some semblance of a plan, and then fit it into the physics of drying and the slices of time allowed and… well, let’s just admit that it’s all a big fucking mess. Not a problem, if you make pots five or six days a week and just keep that endless loop going, open — starting, chasing plastic, finishing, loop. Conversely, if you’ve got even a part-time day job and a committment to Sunday Family Days and three acres of grass to mow and a shitty, overworked, negelected set of sad lumbar discs… if you’ve got all that, like I did, it can be a real problem.
Saturdays were always about the chase, the morning high inexorably turning into the afternoon rush of despair at having to do anything to finish that week’s batch, at having once again accomplished so little, at having somewhere along the line, one slow stupid choice after another, assembled and then settled into such a shitty excuse for a life. It probably looked great from the outside; in many other contexts — or even with just a different perspective — it would have been, should have been; I was so sure I had to do it, that the alternatives would be much worse, somehow. That certainty was one of those leaden accessories that I unknowingly chose to put on every morning when my brain flickered back on… grinding in the studio, towards the next vaguely terrifying expectation or self-imposed, almost-entirely-optional deadline was one of those lead combat boots, or several of the bricks in that ridiculously overloaded backpack; or maybe the chainmail gloves on my hands: the ones that kept me from actually feeling the clay through my fingers, or prevented me from handling the vast array of tools at my disposal with any sort of dexterity or care, or from choosing to stay inside and pick up a pencil or a brush or a laptop and do something else with the day, instead.
That suit of lead armor stopped me from simply being. From letting a Saturday — or any day — just happen, uncoerced. Insisted on all its own rules and limitations. Once I strapped it on each day, the rest was a given.
I gave so much away for that stupid armor.
I got half of what I wanted, going all the way back to when I was young, and it almost killed me before I had a chance to grow old.
Here in month 14, Saturdays don’t start already Xed out. They start open. They don’t start with Ah Fuck, Another Day. They start with Wow, What Am I Going To Do First? They often start ridiculously early, allowing myself the luxury of getting up as soon as I feel like it, because of the luxury of knowing I won’t need to be on the job or driving home or cranking through the last of the leatherhard pots or doing anything else critical at 4pm. There will be time for naps, because there should always be time, on Saturdays, for naps. Anything else is just plain crazy.
Lately, I put on my new stretchy workout pants: because there will be exercising at some point (anything else is just plain crazy), and because — now that I go to the gym four or five times a week — I’m comfortable being one of those annoying people who wear workout clothing out in public, as if a volleyball game or a race around the block might break out at any moment.
Sometimes I write — like now, in the late summer/early fall pre-dawn dark. One of my favorite times; when the rest of my family is still asleep but I get to be here, gloriously awake. Sometimes I draw/paint/tape/pastel/collage or whatever the hell this stuff on paper is. Sometimes I play guitar, or a little Minecraft, or read or carve back into my block of stone, or mow when I feel like it, instead of only at the exhausted tail end of the day. Or we assemble the Millenium Falcon one piece of 1400 pieces at a time, sitting on the floor with M, like she’s three again.
Later today I’m going to have my first guitar play date in about 15 years. Fifteen years. That’s a long time to deny myself the potential transcendence of strumming along and making music with another human being. Sometime soon I’ll get out my stretchy band and yoga mat and set a timer for thirty minutes on my phone and rock out until I’m sweaty and have satisfied myself that my PT maintenance is up to date.
Later, we might go to the pool, or lunch, or dinner, or fuck around or whatever.
It’s the whatever that is making all the difference. It’s good to save time for whatever.
Now. Now. Now. Now. Now.
“Your sadness it is quite lovely, but it’s the sadness of a slave.”