I’m driving home from the pottery studio one night, my trunk full of dishes fresh from the kiln. I drive neurotically. Delicately. Gently. I’m doing anything I can to make sure that all my pieces make it home safely. No small feat, as the route I take home crosses over several train tracks.
And the other motorists seem intent on making every single sudden move.
I’m sure they also feel antagonistic towards my grandma driving. I hear the dishes jostling around a bit as I drive but nothing terribly disconcerting, nothing that sounds like dishes being smashed. When I get home and put the car in park, I post the following:
Driving home tonight, I desperately needed a car topper that conveyed the following: “Sorry I’m driving like this, but my trunk is full of pottery.”
I giggle a little as I post it and then go to the back of the car and open the trunk. At first glance everything looks okay. The right number of dishes are there, and I see no fragments.
It’s only as I’m walking with the box in my hands that I see it. A crack. One of the plates has a crack. One that wasn’t there before. Shit.
It’s a beautiful dish. A great shape. I’d been quite excited about it. I knew it’d been risky to make it so thin, so delicate.
As I look at the crack it’s clear that if it had been just a bit thicker, it probably would have survived whatever bump did it in.
Well, the good news is that it doesn’t go clear across the dish. It’s only a partial crack. Still, I’m disheartened. I feel like throwing it in the trash.
“Don’t,” my partner says. He advises me to set it aside and make a decision later.
I text another one of my friends, a fellow potter, who photographs of the damage. We discuss options. I decide to glaze it and send it back through the kiln. To see what happens.
It’s to no avail. The crack widens dramatically during the glaze firing. It warps in multiple dimensions. But the dish is still very inexplicably beautiful, even warped.
Everyone I show the piece to urges me to break it into pieces and make something beautiful from the shards. So I’m preparing to take the plunge into kintsugi, gilding broken pottery into a piece that highlights the imperfections.
And as I do, it occurs to me that if I had thrown away this plate that I wouldn’t have this opportunity. That I’m so quick to trash my mistakes, to condemn my own imperfections. When maybe I should be more patient with my humanity. Maybe I should take a breather when something goes wrong, let the feelings fade, and then and only then decide what I want to do next.
I’m learning to hold on to my mistakes in a different way — not to shame myself but to appreciate my imperfections.