The Elusive Lover

– Searching for True Love in Clay –

By Jack Frost

We all want to be loved. Not just the friendly kiss of a curious stranger, but the deep passionate embrace only an intimate lover can offer. Someone who not only appreciates our strengths but also understands our weaknesses. It is this elusive connection that I desire in all areas of my life, even ceramics. But how can I find that one incredible spark among a sea of stars in the sky? Here are the four steps I used to regain my creative passion with clay.

1 – Get off the Couch​

2 – Steal Time

3 – No Other Lovers

4 – Focus Your Vision

Step 1 – Get off the Couch​

First, I had to break free from my self-imposed prison. Like you, I live in a world filled with distractions. As we sleep, the world is dreaming up new and beautiful opportunities to place before us. And while each new choice is enticing, if we are not careful we find only the kiss from a stranger and not the full love we desire. And if the natural world was not challenging enough, big companies have learned to harvest our desire for something new and offer us sweet cravings in exchange for just a moment of our time again and again and again. Before you know it, we become trapped in a prison of habits and good intentions. I am amazed that any of us break free to realize our true potential.

I cannot count the number of times I found myself sitting on a couch, watching one more mindless show, wondering why I did not feel satisfied. In the end, I finally reached my breaking point. The pain of not living a creative life became overwhelming, breaking through the static to give me the power to get my ass off the couch. Over time, it became clear that if I wanted to improve my ceramics, I needed to give up (or reduce) the amount of time I sit on the couch binge watching Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc. There are some freaking fantastic shows out there, but it is just too easy to push that button and get another quick fix. To expand my intimate relationship with clay, I would need to make better choices about how to spend my time. And while it may be tempting to jump to the other extreme, living alone in the woods as a monk, I have learned that both extremes have the same negative impact on my pottery. So for me, living alone in the woods, which I truly admire, is just as destructive to my pottery as mindlessly binge watching endless hours of Netflix every night. So, everything in moderation, and listen to your creative voice when it is time to get into the studio.

Step 2 – Steal Ten More Minutes​

Getting off the couch is a vast improvement towards spending more time in the studio. But I eventually reached the point where I wanted to do more. So one choice I made early in my career was to sleep a little less. I know that goes against many of the latest experts. But getting up even 10 minutes earlier each morning allowed me to create or review my action list for the day. That may not sound very sexy, but it does allow me to prioritize my next steps for improving my relationship with clay. And the price was minimal. I merely stopped hitting the snooze button. The same can be done at the end of the day too. Steal 10 minutes before going to bed and review your accomplishments and your long-term goals. The clay notices. As I made these small, conscious efforts to improve my relationship with clay, it creates a magical, multiplying effect and the creative ideas in the studio have been very generous.

Step 3 – Say No to Other Lovers

Building on the idea of stealing more time for my craft, I took a hard look at how I spent the rest of my time. It quickly became apparent that I had many casual passions. If asked, I would tell you that clay was my only focus. But in truth, I also had a keen interest in writing, painting, drawing, science, mathematics, and music. And while being a Renaissance man is very rewarding to my ego, if you try to master everything, the odds are very slim that you will master anything. I had to admit that my time was split between too many creative flings. But after taking the time to explore my passions, I decided clay was my best path forward. Sounds funny today, but that decision was not easy. It was difficult for me to get past the “what if” question and I struggled over committing to a single path. It took time for me to realize that if you have too many big goals, you are not committing yourself fully to your craft. So I decided to let my other dreams go, focusing only on those that supported my long-term goals with clay. Again, everything in moderation. Do not stop exploring new ideas, but commit to your true love. As you know, everyone commits when things easy. Where it becomes challenging is when everything is going wrong. That’s when you find yourself straying towards the next pretty exploration instead of working through the problem. But if you really want to become great at your craft, you need to fully commit and work through those difficulties. It is not easy. But find the discipline to discover something new within your current passion, and let that shiny distraction just walk away. Your true love deserves your full attention.

Step 4 – Focus Your Vision

Once you commit to your craft, you still have a tough road to go. If you want that intimate relationship, you have to decide who you are. And that means you have to start the whole painful process of asking more tough questions. Because every art form has an infinite number of intricate variations, each a sparkling lover for you to explore. So once again, you must listen to your heart and make a decision. But this time the questions are even more intimate. I enjoy working with clay and have developed skills that apply to many techniques. You would think that is a positive thing. But as your skills improve, and you are producing great art, you find there are again too many options. For example, within the world of clay, I can use those skills to create outdoor sculptures, wall murals, fountains, and even musical instruments. But after determining what makes me happy, I have decided that I want to be a functional potter. I love adding to the enjoyment of friends coming together for a family meal. And to be even more specific, I must choose the best way to apply clay, color, and pattern to create bowls that are true for me. Those choices are not easy, even when you are in a committed relationship. Many people, like me, want to please everyone. I will go out of my way to make sure those around me are taken care of. But if I am trying to please everyone, then we are back to the original problem of too many lovers. Just because I can do everything in clay, does not mean I should. So I have to make the tough decisions and find out who I really want to be in this relationship. The common phrase we often hear is “kill your darlings”. It is a difficult task, not because it defines who I am. But rather, it is difficult because I am saying “no” to a part of myself and the people who enjoy that work. And for someone who wants to be loved, it is scary to turn people away. But that is the way to truly fall deeply in love. You must be true to yourself, developing your own personal voice within the relationship. Learn to embrace your limitations, and if done correctly, that process will turn away many false lovers. But what you are left with is something true. Not everyone will enjoy or understand what you are doing. But you are not doing this for everyone. You are developing a deeper relationship with your craft and yourself. So do not be afraid. The world becomes a better place when your true voice is heard. Please take a moment and check out my latest work. See if it calls to you. But most importantly, I hope you find your own voice, and that elusive lover we all deserve.

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