I gave away my Dec. 15, 2013 edition of the Washington Post yesterday, untouched and perfectly preserved in plastic. I gave it away like it was brand new, a real treasure, sincere that information never ages until I realized that time makes everything so, and my offer was perhaps obsolete on arrival. Now that it is no longer in my possession, I realize the paper was more than black and white and never read all over. It was an artifact that I had kept in a rare moment when time had stood still, when the world stopped spinning like clay on a potter’s wheel. What a mess.
This long pause of time, which I will call the Winter Break of My Wandering, began about two weeks ago when I finished my first semester of grad school. I stopped running, both as exercise and as a wayfarer traveling up and down I-95. I stopped reading, writing, researching and analyzing. I coughed up words like design and thinking and innovation and leadership. And though I have miraculously not gotten physically sick from lack of sleep (compensated only by imagination and orange juice), my mind had been smoldering from being on fire, and now burned out. I was grateful for the respite.
Somewhere along my life I had become restless, probably when I spent years in the Pennsylvania mountains searching for purpose and meaning, building up wall after wall of definitions that worked for me in a world I didn’t quite believe in–summed up simply as creativity, a cure for not accepting anything that was said or done (sorry, my horoscope said I would be nostalgic in December). But those were mistakes that I’ve made and tried to resolve by wrapping in a bow of resilience so the experience could sit well on the shelf of my stomach, where “I’m Sorry” gurgles in the gut next to “I Didn’t Know Any Better.” And let’s not forget the fatty liver, reminding everyone of gratitude: “Thank You, Jesus” for all that it has processed and cleaned away.
Only now am I truly beginning to change, probably because I’ve spent months in the city of Philadelphia, deconstructing everything I thought I ever knew. It’s kind of like being interrogated by the nicest group of people, determined to watch you break yourself down as you ask question after unending question, until you realize this has nothing to do with what you believe in. This is not about starting with Why, it’s about understanding How. I’ve unshackled myself from the straightjacket of my thoughts and decided to flip the script, as evidenced by my last post on improv. I can go cold turkey on my traditional ways of doing things. In fact, I do it quite often, and usually without empathy. Just the other day I uttered, “I’m going to give up writing,” without a care for what it has given me, and instead far more curious for what verbal communication can offer instead. To me, this is the next step in my personal evolutionary process, and letting go of things serves a wanderer well.
Even though this may be what I believe, the statement is just not true. I’m still going to write. Like I said, breaking yourself down has everything to do with being honest and improv left me pretty raw. So here it goes, I’m just going to say it: the potter has clay feet.
To have feet of clay is to have a character flaw, a hidden weakness that could lead to eventual downfall. The irony is the potter, the molder of the earth–poking and prodding and instigating–spinning unique blends of readily available material (not unlike a writer) into something special, and perhaps funny. The potter is the fool who believes spinning everything into circles has the same effect as the rinse cycle where the mess disappears in the dizziness. The maker who presses the pedal with feet of clay.