Today was my last firing of the last kiln load at the Stoker School, the ceramics studio at the Bountiful extension of the University of Utah. It was mostly my work with some of Chuck’s large pieces. His last work, too. I’ve been there more than 20 years, learning and helping teach beginning students along the way. I’ve written about it before, and I’ll probably mention it a few more times. It had a real, and significant, effect on my life.
Before sunrise, with pink clouds and a stiff East wind, I drove the automatic path I’ve worn into I-15. I was mentally cataloging all the ‘havetas’ that are coming sown the pipeline. Summer has, for a couple decades, given me an extra evening as I don’t often help with classes in the summer. I started thinking about the things I might be able to get done with an extra night a week with no responsibilities at the studio. No more, ever. I started to think of adult life as being a juggler. You start off by keeping two objects in the air at once. Then three, and maybe a fourth. Then someone tosses you an egg, or maybe a live mouse. You begin to sweat it a bit. The stress goes up, but just when you are getting the hang of it, or maybe successfully tossing the egg of to an audience member someone throws you a running chainsaw.
I’m always looking at the horizon. The place where I can see the opportunity to hand off the mouse and maybe catch a ball on one foot things will get easy. After Christmas, once we get the party behind us, when class finishes, then! But the holidays go by and when you’re finishing washing the dishes after the reunion and are ready to breathe that sigh of relief, something else appears at the skyline approaching with purpose.
Adult life is just taking these new things and thinking, well, it’s a plate spinning on a stick, but if I put it on my chin I can probably still keep these balls floating on, and it will be a good show. There really isn’t any end to it, or even much respite. But seriously, if we think about it, there are probably a few spinning plates that if you go goggle-eyed, shake your head, and mug for the audience, nobody would think ill of you. You might even get a laugh.
Of course, you don’t get to defer choosing everything that comes your way. Sometimes you have to take the chainsaw, sometimes you even have to drop the egg to do it. But I believe you should always try to do it in a way that gets a laugh from the audience .