THE POT OF MUD

Some 15 years ago when I was pursuing my MBA, our college had arranged a Creativity Workshop. The whole campus was filled with booths having many creative activities but one that caught my attention was the pottery booth. It was messy and not too crowded. So, the first impression was that there’s nothing interesting there, not for me though!

Something pulled me towards that booth. I don’t know what, maybe less crowd? Or maybe the fragrance of fresh mud? I stood at the booth watching the potter make beautiful pots of various shapes. I was amazed at how fast and how easily he was creating those pots. He looked calm and happy. I was wondering as to how come he looks so content even though his booth is not pulling any crowd. No crowd means no sales either! Yet, that man looked satisfied. How? My naive mind could not understand that. Little did I know that the potter was a life-lesson personified. Life-lesson # 1 – Look inside you. You will find satisfaction. Look outside, you will misguide yourself.

I stood there for almost 15 mins before I made up my mind to give it a try. I was sceptical. I wanted to try making a pot but I didn’t want to make my hands dirty. Oh wait, was it really called making hands dirty? Uff.. my naive mind again! Popped life-lesson # 2 – A beautiful result calls for the hardship of efforts.

“Bhaiya, I want to make a pot.” finally I had made a decision. “But I have never done it before. Do you think I can still do it?”

“Of course! Anyone can make a pot” he replied. I felt a bit excited.

I pulled up my sleeves and was all set. I sat down on the floor – much contrary to the plus classroom furniture I was already used to! oh boy – sitting on the floor felt so comfortable, so homely! Life Lesson # 3 – Simple things can give you joy too!

The potter set the wheel and placed some mud at the centre.

“Here you go… now cup your hands around this and just tilt your hands a bit… move in the right direction..: he said showing me how to do it…

I carefully extended my hands out and cupped that soggy lifeless dollop of mud.

That first touch of fresh mud felt heavenly. It was silky smooth, aromatic and the steady rhythm it got from the wheel almost felt therapeutic. I was clearly not able to shape the pot but I was liking how my hands felt fully covered with mud. 

“Bhaiya, I am not able to shape it. can you please help me?” Life – Lesson # 4 -Not all things that look simple are actually simple!”

“Why not!” He was eager to help. He cupped his hands outside mine and helped me shape the pot.

A short while later, we had made a soft, asymmetrical pot. A small one. Nowhere close to beautiful. I frowned. 

“What happened?” He asked

“This doesn’t look nice.” I replied immediately.

“Aaare.. This is not done yet. I will bake this pot after it dries.Come back and take it the day after tomorrow. Then tell me how you like it.”

I thanked him for this wonderful experience and left. But the mud stayed with me. The touch, the aroma, the therapy – everything stayed with me.

I went to get my pot two days later. Somehow – I had grown fond of it in these two days. I was excited to see how it looked. 

“Now tell me… isn’t this beautiful?” He said placing the pot on my palms.

I kept looking at that small pot. That soft and mushy pot had hardened now. It had a form, it had a shape! It was still asymmetrical but beautiful. It was MY creation. Something that I created with my bare hands! 

A smile lit up my face. My eyes twinkled. I was so proud of this creation of mine! I thanked him again and went about my day. The whole day I saved that pot from any damage. When I went home, I found a safe corner in my house and placed it there. I showed it to everyone in the house. Just like a small kid who flaunts the first greeting card he makes! Or the first messy painting he does.

That pot was no more ordinary. I had literally placed my heart and soul in it. A few days later my niece visited us. A toddler fond of jumping around and throwing things, she picked up my pot to see and dropped it to the floor! CRASH…! My heart was broken into millions of pieces.

My prized possession was destroyed. I tried putting it back, but no luck. It was broken and couldn’t be mended. Life-lesson # 5 – Sometimes no matter how much you try, you cannot fix broken things – be it heart, relationships or anything else.

I wanted to yell at my niece but something held me back. Something inside me assured me that her action was not intentional. She was a child after all! Life- lesson # 6 – There is a lot more than what meets the eye. Its not always what you see – its about how you look at it!

Cut to present – That pot is gone but it has given me some pearls of wisdom. Some learning that simplifies my life as an adult. A lovely and valuable memory!

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