Friday, December 11, 2009

Slow Down You Move Too Fast, The Dilemma of the Christian Work Ethic

Fernando Botero's Reclining Woman

photographed at the Birmingham Art Museum (BAM)
outside in their art garden

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.

As I wake up every morning lots of times I wake up with good ideas. It is a wonderful state of consciousness. It is there when I wake in peace and take the time to listen. It can be a time of new ideas for pots, creative display ideas or a key to finding inner peace.

Today I realized I need desperately to slow down. I remember as a child spinning a large metal top on a hard linoleum floor. You push down hard and press the metal stem making a grinding noise, metal against metal, applying more and more pressure. Then you let go and it spins and spins nearly falling over several times until it comes to rest on its side. I am a top.
Every year I love and hate the Christmas season. I love to make art people want. I love to go to a show and sell like a maniac and get the compliments feeling greatly rewarded in so many ways for my hard work. I love it when people want to buy my work.
I hate pricing my pottery. It is not that I don't know how. There are formulas, experience and real ways to honestly price my work. Whenever I mention this, my ever so helpful friends start telling me how this is done, as if I don't understand, and scolding me for severely underpricing my work.
I knew I was really in trouble when a friend, a savvy saleswoman friend, came up with a great idea. "I want to sell your pots for you and price them what they should be. That $70 pot should sell for at least $300. I am going to open a shop and sell your pots under a fake name and they will sell like hotcakes." Have I shot myself in the foot now? I cannot even try to sell for more if I sign the pot? The worse thing is, I like the idea. I would love to just make them and someone else, with not ego involved, can sell them. But, what has this spinning top done? Have I landed unsuccessfully on my side before finishing the spin?

I just quit weight watchers after losing 15 pounds. I will admit that 7 and half of those pounds were lost in PA while teaching at the Jewish Kids Camp in the summer where the food was not so great and I walked a lot. Now in this "spinning" part of the year, I find myself craving petifors and rich luscious foods. And, I know I should put my shoes on, go walk and take care of myself. The waist thickens, the face gets big and yikes! How quickly we can undo good habits and begin to pay the price.

The Christian work ethic. I don't like it. I do it. We cannot escape our culture. How do we keep the top from spinning so hard? I am a free spirit who can easily be sucked into getting great pleasure from being extremely productive. Something tells me it gives me a place of respect. It makes me valuable. So then why do I need to work under an alias to make this happen? Something is wrong with this picture.

I knew life was out of balance the other day when I quickly ran into Whole Foods looking for some delicious squash/crab creamy soup and noticed I was in another universe. People were taking their time, enjoying shopping, slowly carefully picking out their dinner and smiling at the same time. I was in a spinning marathon, rushing to get back to work and hurry and eat my dinner before a long night of teaching after working all day.

I am not whining. I am thinking out loud. When we do this public journal thing we open up to much criticism. I write these thought publicly because I know so many others feel this way as well and we need moral support and understanding. I thank everyone who has written me to say, "Thank you. You feel this way too? I thought I was the only one."

I like being busy but it is time to sit back and look for the balance. My husband wonders if he is even married and patiently waits for the calm after the Christmas storm as he has for some 35 years. My cats beg for my attention. The dust is thick on bookshelves. I may have to go back to the beginning of my half read books. My chest of drawers looks as bad as my office, cluttered and piled sky high. I haven't raked the yard yet.

I do have hope. I am not going to make a lot of cash again this year. But, my son replaced the windows in the garage door of my studio. I can clearly see the channel two tower and I can tell if it is day or night, dry or wet or soon to be snowing. But the really special and most calming thing is watching the hawk on channel two's tower. We have a special relationship from my point of view. I look out several times a day to see if she is resting on the perch of the antenna or swooping around the tower. She brings me calm. Watching the grace of flight. Watching her do her job as she watches for her dinner below. Sometime she is just in her nest, privately resting. I wonder if she watches me too. I would offer her a bunch of feeder mice on a box on the roof if I thought she wanted and could see them. And a very creative friend suggested I throw some in the air. Well, I do have a slingshot but it just doesn't sound right. So I will just watch. And, take a few lessons from the hawk.

Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.
Hello lamppost,
What cha knowing?
I've come to watch your flowers growing.
Ain't cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in' doo-doo,
Feelin' groovy.

Got no deeds to do,
No promises to keep.
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you,
All is groovy. Sources:

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