In 1996, when I was in art school, I made this teapot. Much of the pottery I made while learning this craft was given to family and friends, or sold during the semester pottery sale, but this teapot, I kept. I loved the way it looked and felt, and I thought it might inspire future works.
When I took the teapot from the kiln back then, I did not have the right size handle available, so I put the teapot on my shelves with no handle. I enjoyed looking at it there, along with a pottery collection which included my own and work by other potters.
A few years ago, I added a bamboo handle that seemed about the right size and style. The teapot then decorated the top of an electric heater that simulated a wood stove with a flickering glow. It looked cute sitting on top there as if the stove was keeping the contents of the teapot warm. After our move in March, the teapot wound up on a shelf again.
Today, I pulled the teapot off the shelf, rinsed the dust from it, and proceeded to brew myself a pot of tea. I saw my name and the ’96 carved into the bottom of the pot and realized that I had never used the pot for the purpose for which is was made.
It is not a perfect pot, in fact, when I pour my tea, the spout dribbles. The spout was made prior to learning a few clay tips and tricks to prevent or reduce the dribble problem. The teapot is slightly heavier than it probably should be, often a problem for beginner potters, but you know what? The teapot kept my tea nice and warm, the thick walls were likely insulating and keeping the heat in the water for longer.
I have recently been doing a lot of personal reflection, self-healing, and undoubtedly, inner transformation, by incorporating daily quiet time for journaling, meditation and prayer, movement and various forms of art. I’ve given myself permission to ask for space to do these stillness practices for myself.
As I write about my little teapot, including its flaws, I can’t help but wonder if my teapot is a metaphor for me. Over the years, have I put my authentic self on the shelf? Was I waiting there for someone, well me, to add a handle to allow me to pour forth whatever “work” I am here on earth to do? Have I been afraid because I am not perfect?
While my teapot isn’t perfect, today I find joy in using it, dribbles and all. Sometimes it’s the quirky things about handmade pottery that make the pieces the most charming. Could that be true for people too? Maybe it is my quirky imperfections that make me uniquely me? If I allow myself to just be my true authentic self, quirkiness’s and all, will I be able to shine out in the world and fill the space I’m supposed to fill in this universal continuum that we all share? I kind of hope so. My teapot today is fulfilled by finally serving its true purpose. I want my life to have meaning, and I want to know I am fulfilling my purpose too.
What kinds of things do you do to just be authentically you? Do you feel aligned with your authentic self? Feel free to share your thoughts if you’d like.