Friday, January 09, 2015

Trying to find center

Centering the clay, photo by BLW photography, used with permission, CC by 2.0

We are only nine days into the new year, and I'm already feeling overwhelmed. Although I'm not sure why I continue to believe that my life starts on a blank slate every January 1st. I am starting to realize there are not really endings and beginnings, only continuations, as one day blends into the next, one year into the next. It puts the concept of New Year's resolutions into a different kind of perspective for me.

What it means is that at any moment, we can choose to take a new course; that paradoxically, every moment is a chance for something to begin or something to end.

Anyway, enough philosophizing.

Even centering - the title of today's blogpost and the photo used above - is not entirely a metaphor. In ceramics, if the clay is not centered, you cannot throw. That's what happened to me last Friday. I wedged up a half-dozen balls of clay, planning to throw medium and large serving bowls.

What I accomplished instead was an afternoon of mud pies.

Nothing would center. Frustrated, I tried to open the clay and pull up the walls anyway. For my pains, I got what potters affectionately term 'the death wobble.' That's where the opening is not centered (natch - because the clay on the wheel is not centered) and one side of the wall is thick, the other thin. When the wheel spins, the clay wobbles and torques or collapses.

In movement, too, we need to be grounded in our physical center - the center of gravity - in order to function. Otherwise, we fall.

So yes, centering is a very real, physical phenomena.

And it's also a metaphor.

Right now, I'm feeling out of center. There's a lot going on in the next several weeks - much of it wonderful - but still, I'm having trouble staying in balance.

Between now and the middle of February, I will be attending Arisia and participating in the art show, readying TIME AND TITHE for publication, traveling to Iceland for a week (Yikes! But cool!), launching TIME AND TITHE, and attending Boskone, where I'm both in the art show and on panels.

:Takes big, deep breath:

My job in the next few weeks is to look for centering. That means not rushing the process on the wheel at the ceramics studio. That means not rushing about mindlessly (which I was doing yesterday and which meant that I started the day dropping and smashing a wrapped ceramic cup meant for a friend because I didn't take the time to be present.) That means taking the time to breathe, to do yoga, to shut down distractions when it's time to write.

May you be centered in your day and find the balance you need.


  1. A very wise post. I've lately been indulging in too much monkey brain (a Zen catchphrase meaning your mind is constant jumping around from thought to thought and reacting to all of them.) So during morning meditation I'm working on disengaging from the barrage of thoughts and merely observe them like bubbles until they float away. Remembering to do that when I'm *not* meditating is the tough part.

    I'm also shying away from multitasking when I have a lot on my plate (every other day) and focusing on a simple, start-to-finish, get it done, one task at a time approach. I think too many tasks combined with monkey brain makes me particularly unproductive.

    1. Yeah - that monkey mind will get you every time. Sigh. I am sorry you are slogging through this, too, but there is something comforting to know that I'm in good company.

      I keep repeating the phrase 'be here now' as I move through my day, but single tasking is a lot harder than it seems.

      Hang in there, Lynn.