I have dabbled in ceramics and pottery over the years. One of the books that I love, still own, and look at every so often is called: “Centering: In Pottery, Poetry and the Person.” The author talks about the ideas behind centering your life, and living in a balanced place. The author juxtaposes centering in life with centering a pot on a potter’s wheel.
It is not easy, but with practice, skill, and persistence, a potter can throw a chunk of clay on a potter’s wheel and quickly center it. I remember in college my ceramics professor told us of a blind potter. The potter was amazing at centering because they were not looking at the clay to see if it was centered. They could tell just by feeling the way it spun around the wheel. We spent a few classes trying to center the clay while blind folded. That was an amazing experience to me. It taught me how to approach the wheel in a different way, and gave me almost a quiet, calm anytime I started out on the wheel on my way to centering.
If a potter begins to form the clay before it is centered then two things will happen: either his pot will come out lopsided or it will get so off-center that it will come off the wheel or fall over and the potter will have to start over. So it makes sense for the potter to spend more time in the beginning to make sure that the pot is centered, rather than go fast and have to start over again.
What a metaphor for life. If we just took the time at the beginning of a project, trip, plan, etc to find our center and be balanced we would not have to go back and start over again. If we go off course, we just have to go back to our center. Just as on a potter’s wheel, if we go off-center, we can bring it back to the middle and re-center if needed. This is only if we have not made it so off kilter that we have to start over completely, or if we have added too much water that the clay is too elastic and it is not possible to bring it back to its original form.
The potter teaches us to always go back to our center when we feel life has led us astray. Stop. Go back to center. Sometimes we have to change course. In the end, life falls into place when we start from our center.