One of the most frustrating feelings for me is feeling stuck or realizing that I am the only thing standing in my own way. I have been feeling like I am in limbo since my dragon furnace arrived right before thanksgiving—and here it is, already the second week of the new year and still I haven’t even put it together, let alone lit up. It’s not that there haven’t been legitimate things in the way—getting the insurance straightened out, busy time with the holidays, inclement weather, the limbo of waiting to hear after applying for Blown Away Season 2, working at my other job… But even in combination, these are not the real things that have stopped me. It hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday while I was working at the cafe, that fear was the real hurdle. What if something goes wrong? What if I light up and my work just isn’t good enough? What if I can’t do the things that I committed to do? What if I fail? When I name these fears out, they are manageable. I can work through and troubleshoot the furnace—and I don’t have to do it alone, the folks who built it are just a phone call away and more than happy to talk to me and help me sort it out. If my work isn’t as good as I want, it just takes practice—and I love practice so that’s moot. My work will get there—but only if I start working. I haven’t committed anything to anyone who wouldn’t understand if I need more practice to make the things I have said I’ll make.
Standing behind the counter at the cafe, waiting for the clock to tick down to closing time, I was hit with an overwhelming sense of not living up to my potential. There is an economic truth that I need to be working outside of glass for the moment, that I need to have guaranteed income through outside employment. But, I also need to be taking active and daily steps towards my studio being up and running. I was able to articulate to my coworker, that one of the reasons I love working at the cafe is that I don’t have to be the boss—I just do my tasks, take direction, and the day sorts itself out and nothing really comes down on me. I take pride in doing my job well, but at the end of the day I have the security of knowing that I have a job regardless of how good sales were that day, and I don’t have to worry about solving any of the big questions for the business. I absolutely love the idea of getting to work on my own glass production, making my own art, but the business side of the studio is terrifying. Bringing Lemon Glass into being and then from hobby level to business level is going to be rocky, and I need to figure out how and when to ask for help.
[It also occurred to me that if I felt like I was floundering in a Sea of Unknowables when it came to the business side of things, I wasn’t—it might be a Sea of I-Don’t-Know-Yets, in a Land of Unfamiliar Territory, but that there is a reason that people go to school for business! There is a lot to learn that one may stumble through and figure out, mostly by pulling oneself out of one hole after another, but which can also be learned more efficiently if willing to seek out some guidance or take some classes… This isn’t the first time this has struck me, but it hit with a particular vehemence this time, so this time I will commit to following through with a pursuit of knowledge that should ease the path going forward…]
Many times I have recounted the single most influential comment I received from a teacher. My high school ceramics teacher wrote on my report card, “Jesi is daunted by nothing, no, she is undaunted for not even ‘nothing’ would daunt her.” Any time I realize that I have hesitated out of fear, this rings in my head and I pull myself up and find a way to push through—as though it is my responsibility to live up to this huge statement and prove Teacher Cara right. To me, what this really means, is that the only way to truly fail, is to fail to try—any other failure can go down as a learning experience, be problem solved, tried again (and again, and again if necessary), until success is either reached or the target redefined.
Things that I know to be true that give me the confidence to move forward: I am persistent. I have a solid foundation for glass blowing, and plenty of people I could turn to and ask for guidance or advice when I need it. I have a gift when it comes to creating—I am creative and have vision, and I have hands that consistently manage to pull my vision into physical reality in whatever medium I take on. I am smart and love problem solving. Even thinking about making glass feels like it opens the flow of energy centered deep in the core of my body, it causes a physical sensation of knowing that this is what I am meant to do. Being in front of a furnace produces a kind of calm unlike anything else for me—it feels like a truly spiritual experience, like breathing, like conducting energy, like a connection to some vast lineage of makers who have come before me and will come after me… it is beyond words, but it is something I know so completely to be right and true that any steps I make away from this path feel draining. I know that it is rare and precious to have such certainty in my right path, and that I mustn’t squander the opportunity to follow it.
Tomorrow, I will be assembling the dragon for the first time. A dry run, just to make sure that I figure out any questions that I may have and to become familiar with the mechanics and be ready for lighting up next week.
Being undaunted isn’t about being fearless, it’s about being smarter than my fears. It means acknowledging them and facing them; giving them their rightful place, and choosing to move forward on my path knowing that they are there to help me see potential problems so that I can be prepared to solve them.