As I was puttering around in my booth today, I flashed on a not-so-pleasant memory of an alternate life I lived.
Some of you may be aware that I had a previous spouse, and I may have mentioned he was a sculptor for the movie studios. We divorced over eleven years ago, for a number of reasons, but mostly (I think) because of instances like the one I'm about to relate.
One evening, I picked up some of his clay. I don't recall if it was oil-based, but I think it may have been. I played around with it for awhile, and came up with a small, fat wizard. I think that this pair of salt and pepper shakers, remembered from my days at my Oma's place, influenced his shape:
|Image via Ruby Lane.|
Long story short, my ex looked at it, and something flitted across his face before he gave me a condescending verbal pat on the head and proceeded to tear apart my technique. Now, I'm not under any illusion that that little wizard was the next statue of David. It was just a fun little experiment, and in my view at the time, he was charming. I ignored my husband, told him it was just for fun and I didn't really care about technique, and stuck him on a bookshelf so I could look at him from time to time.
I really liked him. His crooked grin always inspired an answering one from me.
I came home one day, and he was gone.
Of course, I asked what happened to him. He was up too high for my cat or dog to get a hold of him, and since I hadn't moved him, there was only one other living being in the house who could be responsible.
I came to find out there had been a leak in one of the drainage pipes under the kitchen sink, and my wizard was made of "the only clay" that could plug the leak. So he tore it apart and used it.
There was an Orchard Supply Store a few blocks away, and pipe threading tape wasn't more than two or three dollars at the time. He also had a three-car garage full of clay and numerous other sculpting materials.
And I really don't believe there was a leak under the sink in the first place. You'd have to know a lot more about that relationship to understand why I was 99% sure there wasn't a damn thing wrong with the sink. Looking back at the way he harshly criticized nearly all the working artists we knew at the time, I'm pretty sure he felt threatened. And it wasn't the first time he had destroyed my belongings. Nor, unfortunately, was it the last.
Fast forward to the present day. I'm puttering around my booth, which is so full of stuff that I had to pull some of it out of the display to make room for the new pieces coming. I have a short list of requests from people for special orders. I've been awarded a prize for my sculpture in an international ceramics show and had the same piece on display in a museum--the piece at the beginning of this post, in fact.
It took me quite a few years to pick up a piece of clay again. When I finally did, I wasn't thinking of my ex. I approached it with the same sense of experimentation and "let's have fun with this" as I did that other, doomed piece of clay, all those years ago. I've held and formed and destroyed many pieces of clay. Some of what I've made has been quite awful, and some has been middling good, and one or two very special pieces have been better than I ever thought could be made with my own two hands.
In spite of what that stupid, callow, vicious jerk said. I can only imagine he saw my potential and felt he had to derail it immediately in order to aggrandize himself.
Or maybe he was just an asshole.
I think sometimes, life is kicked off its proper path. I also think that if the path is truly worthy, and if one is truly meant to be on it, the path and the path-taker may just find each other again. Sometimes, if he or she is really lucky, the path-taker doesn't even have to be consciously searching for the path before it is felt under his or her feet. But pay attention. Pay attention very closely to the signs and signals, because you may miss it and wander in the dark even longer.
I, for one, am grateful the path found me, again, and that I seem to be doing something worthwhile. There are a couple of special people who have appeared in my life, offering to help me get further along on my way, and I am so very grateful to have found them, too.
Maybe I'll get kicked off again. If I do, I know I'll find my way back.