I went through a period of freaking out about my progress in working with clay.
I found myself overwhelmed by the quantity, complexity and intensity of my ideas, which still far exceed my ability to produce. The ideas press upon the window of my creative storefront like homeless souls in an endless cue–waiting… waiting… waiting to be expressed, addressed, acknowledged in some way.
I tried to take care of them or at least give them names or keep track of them with sketches and notes, but never made any real headway. I’d work compulsively to finish something, and damned if a half dozen more pesky ideas didn’t elbow their way into my consciousness, attacking my sense of order and resolution.
Would they never cease, and give me a break? If only I were faster! More skilled! Instead, I was always chasing the train as it was leaving the station, doomed never to get on board and coast to my next destination.
Then I had an epiphany. There is no coasting. I am never, ever going to finish it all.
When I die, there will be a half-used tube of toothpaste in my bathroom drawer, along with a new, back-up tube. There will be a pile of clothes in the laundry room, unfolded and not yet put away. Dishes, dirty or clean, will sit expectantly in the dishwasher. I will have just gone to Costco and of the 96 rolls of toilet paper I bought, 94 will be left. A thick sheen of dust on the living room rug will glisten in the afternoon sun because I will probably not have vacuumed in two weeks (or more!).
And in my little studio, two-year-old sketches of ideas will still be taped to the walls, fluttering among half-finished sculptures, handle-less mugs, and sealed bags of moldy clay.
I will never get to it all. And worrying about that encroaches on the joy of what I’m doing now. So I’ve started letting go of the notion that anything will ever be finished or complete or perfect. Yes, it still whispers in my ear occasionally, but I pay less attention to it. And guess what? I’m happier. Ignore-ance is bliss.