I’m getting ready to bisque-fire a new sculpture. I’ve been referring to it as “An Infinite Capacity for Joy and Grief.”
It evolved slowly, changing in unpredictable ways as I worked.
Originally, I intended the piece as a commentary on the role of luck in my life: a two-sided figure facing forward and backward with the wheels of fortune and misfortune. But life interceded, and moved us in a different direction. I was like a writer, getting to know her main character as she writes, instead of knowing ahead of time.
My sculpture sat drying for months, mute and expectant under dry-cleaning plastic. I unwrapped her last week and now she’s ready to breathe and take on a life of her own. And I’ve learned a thing or two about joy and grief in those months.
Joy and grief are kindred spirits, rooted in gratitude. Joy shows us the beauty and light within everything. Grief shows us what really matters. There’s less than a knife’s edge between them.
I’ve seen joy and grief commingling, teaching each other, merging as one. I’ve learned to recognize their dialogues and their moods. In the midst of great joy, I’ve been struck by those who suffer. And my tears suddenly burst into inexplicable laughter in times of deep sorrow.
A full life, a life well-lived, turns from neither.
I look at it this way. I’m writing the book of my life. Some pages will be joyous and full of wonder. Other pages will be smeared with grief and immeasurable loss. The thing is to keep writing. Keep playing with clay. Keep painting.
Living is the “medium” of life.