It was a long month after my Spring show 2022. It was sure nice to see everyone out, and I very much appreciated the support. I was able to finish the candle project that ran long and all of that happened just before we got the big April snow storm, and we lost power for 3 days. Three days was not bad for us, as some were out for six or more days with trees on the lines.
No pots were made as I worked to file taxes and iron out the bookwork that seems to be tangled up like a box of Christmas lights. A friend who is an accountant and a fire brand Libertarian went through my books and made the crooked straight in no time flat. She had all kinds of hard conversations with me about my bookkeeping and financial management. So I had to make some tough changes to keep things moving along.
Burnout happens slowly over time and is something that seems to run in cycles. After the Spring show, I did not want to see another pot and was happy to fire the kilns and finish things up with a load of dark rusty red iron glazed pieces. Most of those were for the wet shave community and work to update the shops. It was nice to make the rounds and see and talk with the shop owners. I took images of some work to load into my online shop.
When the snow came and the lights went out, My wife and I dug out the camping supplies, the old time Colman stove, oil lamps, and hooked up the propane heater to keep the place warm. Once the power was restored and things were back to normal, I intended to go back to the studio after a few folks sent me messages looking for work, but I was a bit too exhausted still.
To deal with burnout, I let it run its course. At many jobs, you get vacation time to work out such things. But for me personally, I spend most of my vacation making pots and take only a few days each year to go camping. Also, I try and balance life and work to maintain good relationships with family.
Reading books is also relaxing for me and also project planning, marketing, website updates, and cleaning the studio helps. It is ok to take breaks. It is ok to read books. It is ok to take time with loved ones and do other things you might enjoy, as time is limited, and you never get it back.
I always try and ask, “If I was living yesterday a second time, what would I do differently?” It seems to put things into perspective. If I live to be 86 from today, I only have 14, 168 days left to do all the things I wish to accomplish and to try new things. 14,168 days left to impact those around me in positive ways and create positive change if I can.
All of those things combined become who I am and come out in the work though my hands when I do come back to create once more. Even in the Hebrew biblical texts, the Creator rested after seven days.
Maybe he was a bit burned out after it all. Maybe he needed to create the man and the woman as a hobby to relax. Maybe the Creator did some gardening to relax some and see what would happen.
It seems that I was not the only one burned out. Even the preacher seemed to be stumped working his sermon Saturday morning down at the Best Choice Diner in town.
There was a worn bible, a few commentary books, and papers of handwritten notes all over table three in the corner where preacher Mansfield sat. It looked like he was having a real hard time working things out that Saturday morning as he attempted to write his Sunday sermon.
“Poor guy looks a bit flustered today.” said big Jimmy, the owner and cook, as he brought out my eggs.
“Yes Sir! He sure does.” I say.
“Maybe folks will be lucky and get a short sermon tomorrow. Since he took over preaching, everyone’s Sunday dinner roasts have been burned, as he’s a bit long-winded. They all had to go out and buy crock pots.”
“Haaa! Well that’s good for me here at the ol Best Choice. If they burn dinner, I might get to see everyone Sundays. Now if I was smart I would run a roast beef, potato and gravy special. I should go over there and see what’s on his mind.”
Now most of the time you would see the good Reverend Mansfield there at the corner table each Saturday morning writing away like his life depended on it.
He would be writing down the divine words that poured from the heavens, words that seeped out of the bible texts, though his hand, out his pen, and onto the notebook page. And if you knew any better, you did not disrupt such a process.
The waitress Missy would keep refilling his coffee for him as it seemed to be the fuel to the fire until he was finished around lunch. He would then collect all his notes and stuff them in his bible between the pages his sermon came from to save the spot.
The preacher would then pile up his commentaries and supporting materials and put them under his arm and head out the door. He always seemed to forget to leave a tip, a habit that put Missy over the edge, and also hampered her church attendance a bit, but we are all working on something.
” How are things today, Reverend?”
“Here is some toast on the house. Someone accidentally got rye but ordered wheat.”
Big Jimmy pulled up a chair while the preacher shoved his books and papers aside and made room for the plate.
“I’m not sure what to preach on tomorrow, Jimmy. I usually have it all down by now, but today I got nothing.”
“Well, I could get you some stronger coffee if you like?”
”Naww, I’m okay for now..thanks anyway.”
”I just think God’s people can do better. I am having a real bad time getting folks to follow the gospel teachings outside the church doors. It seems folks forget everything I told them once they get to the parking lot.”
Big Jimmy rubbed his chin in thought.
”Well preacher, maybe you should get out more. I see plenty of folks who might not be all that Baptist and are a bit shady doing gospel things. I don’t attend and all, but as a kid I remember that story of Sampson, a shady guy for sure, always getting into trouble, becoming a hero pushing over the pillars. And ol King David sleeping around. All those folks somehow got their names right there in the good book. Maybe push “doing” for a bit instead of only “believing.”
”Yeah..you might be right Jimmy.”
It was at that time, Missy came up to the table for a word with big Jimmy.
“ Hey Jimmy, Billy Mott’s here. He ordered a coffee. I asked if he wanted anything else, and he said he had no money, wanted just a coffee. His mother spent all the money this month on beer and only on some of bills. The guy looks hungry. You told me to let you know when he’s here and..well.. he’s here.”
”Okay Miss. Thanks. “ said big Jimmy as he leaned over to see Billy Mott around the preacher.
” Yeah I‘m not sure what I should do. Maybe I’ll come up with something a bit later. Maybe I can hook up some text out of the book of James on how works and faith need to match up for things to work right. But I worry folks may also forget that. Maybe I got my calling wrong. I feel like a real failure in this town Jimmy.”
Big Jimmy missed that last part. He was still watching Billy Mott sitting having a warm coffee and shaking off the cold from the early Spring morning air. He did look a bit hungry. Big Jimmy signaled Missy with his hand to have her stop over.
“Ahhh shit…Hey, go back there and have the kitchen cook up three eggs over easy..two pieces of toast, bacon, and ahh..one pancake..and have them bring it out to Billy over there..and if Mr. Mott gives you any shit about it tell him I said to shut up and eat it.”
”Okay Jimmy..got it.” said Missy, writing it all down.
“The guy looks like he hasn’t had anything in days. I might need to go talk to his mother again over at the trailer. Billy does great taking care of her, but it looks like things are getting bad again.”
”Okay I’ll have it made up. You going over there now Jimmy?” asked Miss.
“If so I’ll let them know in the back.”
”Yeah.. I’ll take a walk over. I won’t be long. She was going to AA, but looks like she stopped. I’ll get her back there if I have to drag her there myself.”
”Well have a good one preacher. Hope you get something by morning.”
With that, big Jimmy got up and left the table, with his apron on and all, and walked out the Best Choice door. As Missy made her way to the back to put in big Jimmy’s request, the heavens finally cracked open a bit on the preacher and rained down the sweet showers of understanding. His face went white and his eyes filled with tears.
”How could I miss it. It was all right here the whole time. Right here in this town, in this diner, in the cook big Jimmy. The same big Jimmy who made shady deals out back on the steps, the guy who swore like a sailor at the dishwasher for breaking mugs, the guy who stayed up late playing poker with friends, the guy whose shadow never darkened the Baptist church door was now doing all the things I myself have missed.”
”I need to cancel church tomorrow.” The good reverend thought to himself.
”I need to cancel church and tell everyone to just do a good thing tomorrow for someone..an act of selfless kindness, no matter how small or big..without thinking on the selfish desires of heaven.”
With that the preacher jumped up, left a 5 dollar tip, and ran out the door to catch up with Jimmy. He would go with the cook to help with the chat. He thought maybe he owed Jimmy for the help.
There may not have been a Billy Mott, Big Jimmy , or a Preacher, but somewhere someplace someone forgot themselves in helping others. This is my story about my town so I get to tell it how I like.
Written By,Al Wayman
Creek Road Pottery LLC
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