I have often heard the analogy that children are like clay, that they are molded by their parents, society, even entertainment. I think this is fairly true (although, I don’t want to discount genetics as a factor).
We start this ball of clay, malleable and soft. Our parents are the first ones to get their hands us and they start forming this ball into a person, then school, family, friends and maybe a little media get involved and help complete the process. The problem is that we are not clay, true masters serve apprenticeships and are trained in the skills of handling clay, of forming it into works of art. Parents are just assumed to be these masters, we are neither trained nor accredited… We are left to become artisans on our own.
As far as I can figure this casting process ends somewhere in our twenties, the clay begins to harden into the people we are as adults. Our firing complete, we are finished, ready for display.
Lucy was very excited, in art class a few weeks ago they made clay bowls. They formed them, craving their own unique designs into them, painted the piece and allowed them to dry, hardening into the finished bowl. When I asked her how it turned out, she responded that it looked great “but she had to be careful, it would break if she dropped it.”
That is the problem with us clay pots, we are breakable. When we are finished and presented, we are pristine, perfectly painted, designed and finished… but then life starts. We chip and crack, pieces may break off and holes can form. There are people in our lives that find these imperfections and pick at them, making them worse. Digging their fingers into our cracks and removing larger and larger pieces. There are those who try and repair us, filling gaps and mending breaks.
A wise man once told me… A sentence that starts this way always sounds like a load of crap, but I swear it’s true. My high school Latin teacher, Mr. Garcia, once told me that sincere was derived from the latin words sine and cera, meaning without wax. Apparently back in ancient Rome, merchants would proclaim the statues they were selling were “sine cera”, meaning they were solid and undamaged. Broken and chipped sculptures would be fixed by filling the voids with wax. This has stuck with me 20 years later.
In fact, not to get off the subject (But it is my blog, so I’m going too), the whole Latin class experience was strange. In high school we had three language options French, Spanish and Latin, I really thought I would pursue science so I took Latin… To be honest, I was not intelligent enough to be in that class. There were maybe a dozen of us in the class, and they were the smartest of the school (and me), one was a certified genius (I wonder what ever happened to him, he was scary smart, he’s either in some high powered think tank changing the world or in a cabin with no electricity writing a manifesto, he was that kind of genius). What I didn’t know then, was that this was to be a pattern in my life, sneaking into circles I didn’t really belong, fooling people into thinking I fit in, so I can do what I enjoy most… observing talent and intelligence. It was here that I learned to truly see what made these people work they had to think you were one of them. I squeaked by in Latin, I passed, but I was fascinated by these kids, these hunks of clay that were ending their formation, their last step the kiln of college, whose brains already had surpassed the capacity of most of those in charge of molding them.
Lucy was right, you do have to be careful, but what she doesn’t know is that it is impossible to avoid breaks. None of us are sincere.. at least in the true meaning of the word. Our cracks and breaks are filled with wax, spackled and pasted, because no matter how well you are crafted, damage will occur.
I look at my 39 year old clay form, a jigsaw puzzle of cracks and flaws, held together by friends and family, missing pieces filled with the wax of compassion and kindness, knowing that my Mothers goal was for me to be sincere. And then I look at my kids, still soft and able to be formed, I hope that my unskilled hands will craft as perfect a finished product as possible, and that they will be as sincere as any person can be.