Sunday, August 14, 2016

Creating the bowl that is your life

Raw Material of Life
CC Jean Stimmell
I had what still feels like a profound dream last Tuesday, 8/9/16 – like some kind of African proverb. I got up in the middle of the night and wrote it down. Here it is, for what it is worth, just as I wrote it down:

I am living in an indigenous village where school consists of only one task. The children are each given a cylindrical block of wood and their task is to cave a bowl out of this raw material. There are no time constraints: one can take as long as one wants.

 I use a curved knife and start cutting away the interior. It is slow going. One can chop with a knife in the early stages but that is dangerous: you might crack the wood or punch through the bottom. As I get further along, the work gets very delicate: using just my senses, feeling the outside and the inside simultaneously, I must make an intuitive judgment about whether the bowl is still too thick or approaching “rightness.”

While still in the dream I understand its significance: this is the bowl of life that I am fashioning to feed myself during my earthly existence. I can choose to take a shortcut and build a heavy, thick misshapen bowl. But that’s okay if that’s what I want to do. The bowl is still serviceable and will feed me well.  

On the other hand, I can strive to build a very light, piece of art (like the bowls that artisans sell at Sunapee Fair). It will impress some people and be easy to carry but comes with the risk of being easily broken.

The only way to fail at this indigenous school is to breach the bottom of your bowl. If it is too thin and leaks, then you will not flourish in life. Worse yet, if you cut a hole in the bottom, you will not be able to feed yourself and die.
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Cracked Bowl*
CC Jean Stimmell: August 14, 2016
* This photo is a black and white rendition of a carved, clay bowl created by Teresa Taylor, SaltyDogPottery.com. Teresa gave this piece to me because it developed a crack while being fired. I consider the crack gives the bowl additional worth, making it a magnificent sculpture.

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