I finally reached the end of this crazy semester. Funny how quickly time seems to pass when looked upon in retrospect. I'm sure time dragged in some ways while we were in the middle of it..
What can I say? This is the first year I'm able to say that I'm GLAD the semester is over. Usually I feel a lot of regret and wish I had tried this other idea or been able to finish that project. But this semester I am looking at the good and the bad and saying goodbye to it all and hello to break. I think I'm ready for a break from ceramics and a chance to catch up on other things that I don't normally have a chance to work on. Like mending a pile of clothes in my closet. And refinishing a magazine rack that I thrifted on the cheap. Or making books or other types of art. Chances are good that four weeks of break won't be nearly enough time to do all that, visit family, work, clean my dirty apartment, and actually rest.
I think I get so caught up on "endings" that at the end of each semester as people graduate or as we all take a break I feel so sentimental about the time we've spent together and how things will change the next time we are all together. I've had critiques where I looked around the room at my classmates and knew that it would be the last time we were all together that way and I mourned the loss of that consistency in my life. The truth is I spend more time with my classmates throughout the year than I do with anyone else. These people see me when I'm doing well, but have also seen me when I've been practically at my worst. They have taught me so much about generosity, caring, working together, and friendship. They are part of my every day life. I love them dearly and am so thankful that God gave them to me as friends and classmates. I think God has used their presence in my life to teach me so much about myself and my walk with Him.
I think too as I near graduation I realize that some of these dear people will always be a part of my life. Some will fade in and out of the picture as we go on our different ways. But some of these people...I hope so much that we will always be friends. That we will always keep in contact. Even if just to shoot a photo of what we're working on to each other and say "look what I'm making!" Also, I think I've realized too that in the past I viewed school as my assurance of being able to make ceramics. Now, although I know it will be harder to continue making pots once I finish school, I am pretty determined that unless God steers me in some other direction that I will continue to make pots. This is just training and a stepping stone. It will somehow be a part of my life. So this semester I've spent a bit of time trying to learn to balance that passion for my work with obligations and interests outside of school. It's been good. The end of school doesn't mean I won't ever get to work with clay again. It can still be part of my life.
Another thing I've noticed is that by the end of the semester I think I'm running mainly on adrenaline. Because eating and sleeping don't happen regularly during those last couple of weeks before formal critiques. I think this causes an increase in my beta endorphin levels that keeps me somewhat cheerful throughout all the stress. However, once the semester ends and the adrenaline rush and beta endorphins level out, I tend to crash. This may also be part of why I am an emotional wreck by the end of the semester. I'm grateful that I get to stay here in town for most of the break. Not because I don't want to see my family, or that I don't love them. But honestly, at this place in my life, having consistency through my job and my church and community here in town gives me some stability that I crave in my life. I don't end a semester and immediately lose my schedule and ordinary routine and head down to a place where I have no routine, no schedule or work to do, etc. I am so grateful that I get to visit with family over the break, though. I wasn't entirely sure I would get to, but I do and I'm so happy!
All in all, over this past semester I've been reminded of what I've been learning these past few years. As an art major and future artist, I am financially poor. But, in God's love and mercy; family and friendships; and experiences I am so very rich! I have everything. Well, sometimes I don't feel I have the time to take it all in and appreciate it. But when I do slow down enough to appreciate little things like the teamwork I experience with my friends, or firing a kiln under the stars (I love seeing the stars, and firing a kiln is intense...so it's quite the experience to contrast the quiet of the sky and the energy of the kiln....yeah, I may be a hippy), the care and concern expressed toward me by my family and friends, and all the other little things in my life I am a bit overcome by how very blessed I am.
And after this somewhat incoherently written post I leave you with a Shirley Temple song that I identified with a bit and have been singing for over a week:
"There's billions worth of golden sunbeams.
That everybody can possess.
All God's children got success.
Come and get your happiness.
There's billions worth of silver moonbeams.
Enough for everyone I guess.
What's a million more or less?
Come and get your happiness!
Along the wildwood of your happy childhood
When you were Jills and Jacks.
In raggy britches there's a lot of riches
On which you don't pay any income tax.
So get under that blue heaven.
Away from trouble and distress.
Just find mother nature's address
And come and get your happiness.