...sometimes things seem to move through our lives in ways that can't help but create new yardsticks for how we are doing and what's really important. This past week was a good case in point.
A week doing a visiting artist workshop with my good friend Richard Burkett at Idyllwild in CA, between LA and San Diego, was great fun and a lot of pots were made. A wonderful setting in the mountains, working with a fine group of people, alongside Sunshine Cobb being a definite highlight of the week. But then, having just arrived back in SD, I received a phone call that my wife, Mary, had been in a car accident. Now before I proceed, I need to say that she is fine, thank God, even though the picture of the car (posted below) might have suggested otherwise. A very serious accident indeed, and one leaving you to realize that it could have gone in a very different, and bad, direction. A good car and seat belts proved to be the difference, and the EMT folks told her that two other similar accidents earlier in the week took the lives of each driver.
So, a week of making pots in the mountains of CA with friends, juxtaposed to realizing you almost lost your wife. A roller coaster? Indeed. And while there is surely a hierarchy to all of this in terms of what's more important, nonetheless they both serve to help us find balance in life. Each allow us to focus and understand the importance of the other, in a very weird sort of way. I find myself thinking often of how close I came to returning home alone, in a most terrible way. And how much my life is tied to and dependent on another, in this case Mary. How many pieces of pottery would it take to help me find that balance in my life if I were without her? I fear there is not a clay pit wide enough or deep enough to fill the void. Yet I still do use my work, and my hands in clay to help seek that balance in life. Sometimes it is only to help solve a mystery within myself that I am pondering, and then again it might be to help soothe the roughness of a hard day.
My brother Ken (a catholic priest) told me that God must have more work for Mary on this earth to protect her from the accident. This may be true, but for me, that work is to remain in my life (and others she knows as well), which might suggest she needs to be with us all for many years to come. Yet the realization that nobody gets out of this life alive sort of begs the question from my brother's comment that God has more work for us therefore protecting us this way. Who do you know that passed away with people saying well, 'they were done with their life's work'. Sure, some live very long lives, but hey, there are still many reasons they should stay with us, right?
So, the roller coaster of life goes on. I made pots with friends for a week in a great location, yet almost lost someone I love. Go figure. The real scary thing about it all is knowing that I can never make enough art to compensate for that type of loss, and how little I am without her. Now that's a real scary roller coaster to be on, for sure, yet wonderful knowing you can love that much.