Today was my favourite day back in the UK so far.
Thanks to a little girl called Eva and a lump of clay.
In amongst the craziness of silly season and my busy social calendar (most of which I’d ducked out of, on the verge of exhaustion), I’d been looking forward to an escape to the Rame peninsula to see one of my best friends.
Little did I know I’d find something that lit me from the inside.
I’d had a vague memory as a child of visiting Wetheriggs Pottery, which was near where I grew up in the Lake District, and of throwing a big lump of brown clay onto a potter’s wheel, but it was fuzzy, like a lot of my childhood.
All I knew was that, given half a sniff of a chance, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the clay again. Especially as I had Eva, age 5 (nearly 6, as she pointed out) keen to show me the ropes.
As we sat side by side, and her Grandad, the famous potter Paul Cardew guided me through it, I could not have been happier.
I lost all sense of where I was, and all the mattered was the feel of the clay, getting the pressure right, and making sure my foot stayed steady on the pedal.
When I finished, and I looked at my modest little pot, it was like I’d just scored the winning goal for Carlisle United in the Champions League Final. I hadn’t dreamed it would have been possible. I had thought I was so clumsy with my hands, but here it was, the proof in the pudding. I’d created something!
I thought about all the times we hold ourselves back, thinking something isn’t for us. I do that myself. I don’t think I can sing. I don’t think I’m artistic at all.
Yet here I am, in my work at the moment, surrounded by musicians, artists, creative types, feeling completely in my element. It’s like “coming home” after a week of feeling like a fish out of water. I’m at peace with the world again.
As I look at Eva, I’m in awe of this five year old, filled with love, who states with confidence that she’s going to be an artist when she grows up.
I’m reminded of a quote I once read from the Dalai Lama , and how well it resonated at the time, but now more than ever.
“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet needs more storytellers, healers, restorers, and lovers of all kind”.
Amen to that.