A few years back I was visiting a craft shop, run by a cooperative of artists. I got chatting to the member on duty that day. I can't remember what led to it, but she told me how potters who buy their first kiln sometimes think that it is faulty. The kiln will reach a certain temperature and apparently stop heating up.
Clay, like water, changes state at certain temperatures. Just as ice melts, and water turns to steam, clay undergoes a change from one solid form to another. This takes energy. The kiln can't heat up further until all the clay has undergone this change of state, then the temperature will start rising again.
i couldn't help thinking that this is a perfect metaphor for personal growth. Often we try to make changes, and nothing seems to be happening. But we need to be kind to ourselves, because a great deal of change may be going on where we can't see it. All of a sudden, this process is done and then apparently magically, we are transformed. The change was happening steadily all along, we just couldn't see it.
On the other hand the changes in my garden are visible every day at the moment. A week ago our wisteria vine was like this:
Now the flowers have almost all fallen off, and it is covered with green leaves instead. On the other hand, the rhododendron is thickly covered with pink blossom. And there are ducklings on the river wherever I look:
I have been reading "Time" by Andy Goldsworthy, an artist I greatly admire. On the first page I found this:
Time and change are connected to place. Real change is best understood by staying in one place. When I travel, I see differences rather than change. I resent travelling south in early spring in case I am away from home when I see my first tree coming into leaf. If this happens, I see the leaves, but not the growth or change.
I long to travel, but in spring, like Goldsworthy, I see the value of staying in one place long enough to appreciate the changes.