Monday, September 19, 2011

Looking Inward!

When you look into a kiln at stoneware temperature (wearing suitable eye protection of course), the first glimpse that you take may not make sense at all. Everything is almost white hot.  White on white.  You have to stop and think.  You are witnessing a place so hostile and unlike the world where you live and breathe that you almost need an interpreter before you start to recognise something that might be the side of a pot, or the little setting of cones that you have placed to tell the temperature. For me, the inside of the kiln is also a place of profound mystery, it is like a microcosm of the universe a fraction of time after the big bang.  Materials that seemed stable and dependable at room temperature are transformed by all the heat and are dancing little dances, swapping partners, recombining in new ways, and abandoning atoms of this and that. 

It is true, I think, that there is a similar place at the centre of most of us.  A place that is simple, unfiltered and raw.  It is the Us where our innermost thoughts tumble and ferment. It is the place where we are wounded, or rewarded, where we are motivated, or where we crumple and die.  Like the inside of the kiln at peak temperature, it is a place that is so unworldly and unfathomable that it is hostile to those who attempt to peer in. It is a lonely place.  This loneliness is neither good or bad, although some fear it.  This loneliness just is.  It is part of the package of being human.  If you are alive, and know that you are alive, than this lonely innermost place will be part of you too!

Looking into a kiln that is at high temperature is damaging to the eyes.  To block out harmful radiation, you need suitable goggles (not just sunglasses!).  Your view of the inner life of the kiln is therefore achieved through a filter, a veil, a mask.

We reveal or conceal the essential Us with veils, masks, and filters too, and wear different filters for different target audiences!  We are selective.

One of the challenges of having a blog, is knowing just what part of one's life to share, and how much to withhold.  My choice with this blog has been to lean a little away from the personal, and to focus mostly on the life of potting, and to share some practical stuff that might be helpful to others who are working with glazes and clay.  People have given freely of so much to help me get a start at potting, and it is a rewarding and enjoyable part of the deal, as I see it, to be able to give back.

It is fun to see how other potters balance things.  Some of you "vent" publicly when things upset you, others prefer to share cooking recipes!  To conceal heartaches in pumpkin soup!  One thread that there seems to be in common amongst most potters is generosity when it comes to sharing potting tips, and other help.  I am so thankful for that.  I am also thankful for the variety of approaches to the art of blogging.

I've spent the last two and a bit weeks rather unwell, which is why this post is a bit odd!  Essentially the trouble was an infection that raced on through to a kidney and had me rather sick for the first few days.  I am currently much better, but not very strong yet.  When my temperature was high in the first few nights, I would lie awake at night composing blog posts in my head (there's dedication for you)... it helped pass the time!  Happily none of them actually got written, but I can assure you that there were some minor masterpieces there!  As I began to get better I found a lot of pleasure in music, and have been attempting to play classical music on the ukulele (the beautiful instrument that I recently got for my 101th birthday), and have spent many hours on the internet looking and listening to people playing banjo (various styles), and other instruments, such as the lute, the dulcimer, and the Hurdy Gurdy. 

I wonder if some of you in America have heard of "Mean Mary", here's a link to a piece of her music that kept me amused "Big Red Barn", and another of Mary playing banjo with her brother Frank James playing guitar "Joy".

Must wrap this up now.  Hope to be back in the studio again later in the week.  The photos were taken recently around our garden.  It is Spring here!


Linda Starr said...

Such beautiful flowers, we are heading into autumn here now and a bit cooler weather, thanksfully. So glad to hear you are on the mend. I've been getting pure cranberry juice and it being rather bitter without any sugary additions, I add it to water and drink it for kidney health I think it helps me.

gz said...

Cranberry juice here too.

Sometimes you do share personal things, especially when there is no-one else to listen and understand.

Virtual cake and real online sympathy and help is marvellous!

srgb said...

Hi Peter
So pleased to hear you are on the mend, maybe it just a way to get you to have a rest, do take care.

Judy Shreve said...

What a beautiful post - happy to hear you are feeling better. Sending healing wishes for your full recovery soon. -- and happy spring to you and Laura!

cookingwithgas said...

the balance- how true- how much to tell or give- or give back.
Keep getting better- it truly sucks to not feel well.
Not a pretty word but sometimes a true word.
Looking inward--M

Angie said...

I am so sorry to hear how ill you have been but relieved you are on the mend.
The post was thought provoking ...the photos beautiful ...and I enjoyed the video too . Take care of yourself, laura and the moggies too xx

Tracey Broome said...

Sorry to hear you have been poorly Peter, hope you are feeling 100% again very soon! Clearly I have not mastered the art of filtering on my blog, probably should, but it's good therapy to put is out there, and bloggers are so supportive! I enjoy your blog so much, please feel better soon, so there is more to read :)

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so sorry you have been sick but am relieved that you are on the mend.
I can relate to the late night mental blogging. Sometimes I think my best stuff disappears into the darkness but then perhaps it disappears for good reason.
Hope you are in the "pink" really soon.

Hannah said...

Glad you are feeling brighter.
I know what you mean, I write so many ranting posts in my head but never post them, thankfully. By the time I've thought it all through that usually helps dispell whatever the thoughts were anyway.
Good to see the ginger cat there.
Spring! Heck, today I was being showered by falling leaves in the chilly misty morning on my ride to work. How different!

Peter said...

Whilst I feel a bit silly letting on that I've been sick, I have to say that your thoughtful, kind comments have been very uplifting and gave me a kind of warm glow this morning when I checked my mail! Thank you so much.

Hi Linda,
Since the onset of this infection, I've been adding greatly to the profits of the American Cranberry industry and that of our local store! We don't have a lot of choice about sweetened or unsweetened, but it is Cranberry juice never-the-less, and I am most thankful for it! Happy to report that our doctor recommended it too!

Hi Gwynneth,
Virtual cake has a lot to recommend it! Virtually eat as much as you like, and have any flavour, and it isn't fattening! Wonderful!

Hello Bob,
Good to hear from you. I was just thinking that it would have been about a year ago that I met you in Auckland. I think that the body has "ganged up on me" this time and has Made me rest!

Hi Judy,
Thanks for the healing wishes, and kind thoughts.

Hi Meredith,
Good to hear from you. I'm continuing to improve, which is all good, and I managed a trip to Dunedin today (something that I could hardly contemplate even 2 days ago).

Hello Angie,
Glad you enjoyed the video (hope others have a look too). It has been so good looking at people playing music, especially those who do so joyfully!

Hi Tracey,
Thanks for that. Please don't apply the "filters" to your blog, I love it that you are able to share the things you do.

Hi Patti,
Sometimes I think it is a shame that we can't just download night-time blog thoughts directly into some sort of memory stick so that we can at least examine them a few hours later when daylight comes!

Hi Hannah,
"falling leaves in the chilly misty morning" sounds rather nice really.. poetic! We still have it chilly here quite often, but the trend is toward something much hotter. (I wonder if Russell from NZ has visited you yet??)

Armelle said...

The mystics seek the real contact with "that" which is inside
and is pure light, but so difficult to address, hidden by the cloud of unknowing.
Delighted to know that you are better Peter, your flowers are beautiful and your new pots will be superb. After the disease when the energy comes back, we often make progress.
Best wishes

smartcat said...

Being sick is a drag...glad you are on the road to recovery.

Love the pics of your garden and cats. Wonderful fritillaries, which I have no success in growing...ever! I admit to a little envy as you are starting spring and we are going into fall.

As to how much to share.....I have just started blogging and it is a question that nags me. I think you have hit the right note.

Peter said...

Bonjour Armelle,
In peace and joy there is healing, and that is where music comes in. It speaks without words and gladdens the heart! I'm wishing for new pots that will have the vigour and life of spring flowers! That would be a good thing!

Hi Suzi (smartcat),
Welcome to my blog, and good to hear from you. The fritillaries are some of our favourites and so beautiful and strange with their pattern of little squares, like a flag or a chess board!
Congratulations on your new blog, and for your majolica work.