Saturday, February 9, 2013

Out of the Box

Cargo Box Stock Images - Image: 3664214
So, it's been awhile.

Over a year since I've written anything.

And what have I been doing? (Outside neglecting this blog and ignoring the occasional request for a post?)  I haven't been making pots. I haven't been posting on Etsy. I haven't been building my business.

I have been fixing the house. I've been going to work. I've taken some time to visit with friends. But mostly I've been re-examining myself.

Yeah, I do that a lot.

And what have I come up with?       Boxes.  And labels.     I'll explain.

You know those people who've always known what they wanted to do with themselves? The hairdresser who cut Barbie's hair and did all of her friends styling for prom? The musician who picked up piano by ear and scored all the leads in high school musicals? I have friends who seem to know in every fiber of their being that they are teachers. Or artists. Or entrepreneurs. Some of them describe it as their calling. Or sometimes their purpose. Even my husband has a little bit of this. Farming is clearly in this man's heart and soul.

I remember recognizing this in some of the kids I grew up with. Sally carried around a sketchbook and drew all day: Artist. Bobby was the captain of every sport: Athlete. Sam and Ben and Stephanie excitedly talked together about math and science: Academics. It all seemed so simple for them. Neat and tidy. They could be packaged, boxed and labeled. No muss, no fuss, no wondering. All of their questions already answered. What do you want to be when you grow up? Where do you want to go to college? How do you define yourself?

No problem. Just read the label on the box.

It didn't feel so straightforward for me. Sure, I had some talents. I sang, but I was no show-stopper. I liked to draw a lsome, but I could only do it from life, not from imagination. I was smart, but I was no scholar. To me, it seemed the only box I clearly fit into was the one marked damaged goods.

I spent a good chunk of my youth in that box. Maybe even some of my adulthood. I closed up the flaps and rifled through the detritus, eagerly scrutinizing every chip and crack I could find and occasionally chasing off intruders with shards.

I wasted a lot of time in that box until, fortunately, a series of college electives lead me to stumble over another one.  Sturdier.  Marked "Potter". "Ceramicist".             An artist after all! 
And over time I found more packaging, other boxes I could climb into. One that said "wife". One that said "homesteader" or something close to it. One that said "family member". Each box with it's own label, it's own set of characteristics to define myself with. It's own set of parameters. And then something happened.

I began to feel claustrophobic.

The same boxes that I had been relying upon for structure now felt like six sides pushing in. And I had been shrinking myself to fit inside them, snipping off the bits that seemed to counter my labeling. Putting aside parts of my personality that couldn't be well categorized. Making myself smaller.

I've tried to think of other boxes that might better fit me. Again, hoping to discover my true calling. Find my real purpose. But the truth of the matter is that maybe I don't have one. And whether I'm making pots or making pickles or change my last name it still doesn't define me. And that's okay.

Because I've realized that I still have a label. And it's actually the one I've had all along. The only one that really describes me heart and soul:

"Incredibly capable".

And those boxes? I'll hold on to them. Because now I recognize what they're really there for.

They hold my tools.

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