A common question that we received today at the conference is “how much?” I love this question. I love it because I know that my answer to that question will completely catch them off guard and make them feel good. It’s exciting for me and the person asking. I am excited to see the reaction and they’re excited to hear that this cup is free of charge.
At Malvern we have been taught how to give our pieces away. Last year I participated in the mug assault which is where students make 25 well crafted mugs and give them away for free. You’d be surprised just how challenging this task is. Most people think that there is a catch behind the whole thing and others won’t even make eye contact. Either way we found a way to give almost all of them away.
We also have Empty Bowls where students, faculty, and family members throw bowls for an event to raise money for the homeless. Every bowl we make is given away and we usually will not see it again. But we do it for a greater cause and also because it just makes us feel good.
Aside from seeing someones reaction to us telling them it is a free cup – it goes a little deeper. You know that the person will hold on to that cup and whenever they look at that cup, they will think of us. It’s such an out of the ordinary thing that it sticks to us. For the potter, it feels good to know that something you made and put time into will be cherished and used as a spark for a memory. Giving work away creates such a strong connection that goes unnoticed. It’s a powerful thing and I think it is safe to say it is one of our most favorite things to do in ceramics.
I find that through our many interviews people describe their flow activity as something they do alone that benefits them directly. I also feel that for some people they find flow in things they don’t even realize or take a notice to. The thing could also be used to benefit others and also bring the best out those people. It could be something like teaching or giving up your time in order to help other people. These things may sound to some people like things that are not too desirable or something they could become fully immersed in, but for those special people I think it is very possible. I believe that sometimes the activity itself may not be what we are totally in love with, but the outcome that makes the activity unquestionable and pass easily.
One of my teachers is a prime example of this. If you look at the many things she is involved in, you find it hard to believe. And not only does she complete these tasks, she does it with a smile on her face. I know for the most of us, we see this and we might sometimes take this for granted. She consistently puts in long hours all so that she can see her students succeed. She is at school at 7:30 for meetings carrying a box of doughnuts for the various activities she is involved in – and still there at 5:00, assisting students or working on school jobs.
Why is this? Not many people I know could handle this type of workload that she takes on. I like to think that she takes a sense of flow into all these activities, knowing that she could potentially change these students’ lives. She knows that what she is doing now, although it may be tough, changes her students for the better.
This type of flow, in my opinion, is the best type there is. It is powerful, and it is so selfless and kind.