One really must get out of one’s own way in order to see the beauty of truth. But then one must summon courage, heart- strength, in order to face the truth and the beauty of it, such that its agony and its ecstasy are both harvested. That is the conundrum. The ecstasy comes with the agony of life as an intertwined flavor much like the white and red of a candy cane. Try eating the white without the red and you will have a logistical project on your hands. And such is the problem of addiction – people trying to eat the red and not the white. I always stamp my pots with two chops. One reminds me of who I am, the other reminds me of what I seek. One is the “C” and the “L” of my name, the “L” entering the “C” as a lotus flower bud. The other is the symbol for a beauty known to my hero potters of days-gone-by.
When I make pots I am, as Bernard Leach has famously said, drawing lines in the air. Pottery is the way I process life. It is where life is digested. For others it is within other passions; cooking, raising children, making spreadsheets of scarves or blown glass or the teaching craft. I believe pottery saved me from addiction. I still have coping mechanisms which, at any moment could, if not carefully observed, flare up into a conflagration of addiction.
Buying protein and vegetables -food for the day – is a function. Buying a bit too much food such as sweets and wasted calories like noodles and bread – recreational eating – is coping. Binging on food towards obesity or compulsion or purging – well, that is addiction. Being mindful of one’s coping mechanisms is as essential as is minding that which is or could be an addiction. A glass of wine is enjoyable. Two in an evening is coping, four is probably an addiction, or one information.
Hardest of all is to eat the entire candy cane of life, not just the white part and not just the red. In every day, every vacation, every marriage, every vocation, even every friendship are the white and the red intertwined. They come together. The way to avoid suffering is to name them and let them both be with you. Your demons do not need to be eradicated nor fought with – they serve a purpose. They just want to be heard. Listen to them and they will step aside in favor of light. Battle them and they will keep you in darkness or exhaustion if only because they have won by keeping your attention. You become their prisoner, fighting to the death with the key dangling from your own belt. Better to choose life and choose beauty allowing the mud its place in the making of the lotus flower.