Friday, April 27, 2007
Like Water for Milkshakes
I spent last weekend at an old farm set up for art and craft instruction. I learned glassblowing, which happened to be the only thing on my "Do before I die" list. It was a trip a long time in the works (more than ten years) and I can honestly say it was perfect. This was the perfect timing, the perfect setting, the perfect everything.
I left behind husband and son on the first beautiful sunny morning of spring. After a two hour drive I arrived and met the other three people in my class. I also met my teacher who was one of those people born to be doing what she's doing. She's a talented glassblower and a natural teacher. I could not have asked for more.
We spent our first day making drinking glasses, our first night making paperweights. We spent our second day doing whatever we wanted and for me that included more drinking glasses and some vases and bowls, all with a lot of color to spice things up. The third and final day was more of the same. Everything came out a little wonky but each is a treasure to me.
So, like I said, the weekend was perfect. It certainly didn't hurt that I got to be outside for the first beautiful days of spring. I worked outside, I ate outside, I relaxed outside. I enjoyed the heck out of the weather. But more important than that - and as I tried to explain to David - I feel as though I nourished my core. It's times like these that I wish I was a writer so I could accurately put this experience into words. I don't think I can fully capture it, but I can try.
As someone who loves nothing more than to create (with fabric, with wood, with paper, with whatever), spending three days doing nothing BUT that was such a gift. I felt more privileged than I ever have in my life. And I don't mean that in the sense of "I'm glad I could afford to pay for this" (though I am certainly grateful for that). I mean that more in the sense of "I'm glad the universe aligned to allow me to be here." I just kept looking around at the people in my class and the people in other classes - who were spending the days doing things like weaving and making beads and painting canvas floor cloths and rustic furniture - and thinking "This is too good. How did we get here?!"
I've had time to create in recent years but it's always been stolen moments and it's always been with some very specific goal (sew a quilt; knit a blanket; make a scrapbook). There's always some deadline involved and there are always restrictions (though, admittedly, they're usually self-imposed). For three days I was free to create whatever came into my head. When I said it was done, it was done. If it got screwed up, I started over. I didn't have to think about a single other thing. Heck, they even fed me. Every bit of this weekend went right to the core of who I am and shored me right up, like a tall glass of water when you're so, so thirsty.
I've done other things in the last year that were designed to re-energize or rejuvenate me, but their effects have been temporary. To continue with the same metaphor, they've been like fabulous milkshakes that tasted great in the moment but were little more than distractions from the ongoing, nagging thirst that had been building - the thirst that started growing when I stopped having the time or the energy to nourish the creative parts of me that yearned for freedom and time. My glassblowing weekend was pure water that went right to the core of it.
Often in the past when I've had really wonderful experiences, I've been sad to see them end. There was a small part of me that was sad the weekend was done, but overwhelmingly I was happy to come back to this life. And I think that's really saying something because it means it was enough. Too often now things get cut short and I wish for more. But this weekend was not cut short in any way and that made all the difference.
My wish is that everyone could do something like my glassblowing weekend. Maybe crafting wouldn't do it for everyone, but I wish that everyone could find the thing that would do it and find a way to make it happen. The farm where I spent three days actually has a high school program and they never turn anyone away because they can't pay. So when they told us they were refunding a third of our tuition because of some problems with the glass on the first day I told them to keep it and use it for their scholarship program. I wish I could do more and in the future I know I will. And in the future I also know I'll go back.