In this week’s pottery class, we learned how to make bowls. As the instructor demonstrated pulling the thick walls and developing the shape, we talked about size.
Up until that class, we had been making “vessels,” with a mug being the vessel of choice. I mean, who doesn’t want to drink out of a mug of her own making or gift one to an appreciative loved one? Since they don’t need to be too big to handle morning coffee (the size of mine has been so small that I can pretend I’m in a diner and continually need a refill), we were only using a pound of clay for each cup. But bowls, well, bowls need to contain much more: soup, salad, smoothie, ice cream, OR
a full meal for a single lady eating dinner while watching Netflix! Yes, we all agreed, that is the optimal size we’re aiming for (even the married mother with two young children). A bowl that contains everything with no need to get up from the couch for seconds, or thirds (I love thirds!). No dainty bowls for us. No, we wanted to make a bowl that satisfies. One-and-three-quarters of a pound of clay worth—that’s how big our bowl’s would be!
Perhaps it was because half of our class members weren’t there that night and because we’re more than halfway through the session, but over bowl size and purpose we finally came together. We weren’t just individuals at our wheels trying—over and over and over again, pound by pound—to perfect our pottery—no, not to perfect, but to at least have something that’s good enough and to keep improving. There was levity as we dripped in the barely airconditioned space, simultaneously in this moment of making together and a future moment of using alone.
We smiled as we imagined what we would put into our bowls that would satisfy our need to nourish and nurture ourselves, and with no one watching, the growing heap of satisfaction that would be piled inside. And then (ok, it’s time now to find the lesson in the lesson), I realized that this whole pottery-making enterprise is about having control over my world. Here is the cup I made; I’m drinking from it. Here is the bowl I made; I’m eating out of it. I can be satisfied within the world I’ve created. I can even binge-watch TV (probably dating shows; oh, the absurdity of sitting alone on a couch watching other people so desperate as to offer their loneliness and desire as entertainment; oh, how we can’t escape our mind and our hidden desires).
But back to big bowls. They’re the equivalent of one-pot or -skillet meals. Nothing fancy. No division of foods by category, no concerns about items touching each other. Just all in. Each bite, each moment, different. Big bites for small moments. Who cares? It’s all to be enjoyed.