Who knew that a broken bowl, even a beloved one, could be the catalyst for deciphering the difference between a resolution and an intention or inspire me into stretching my wings a bit as I head into 2020?
It started innocently. At the end of a long day of baking, I was washing dishes. I was tired, but happy-tired, lost in the smells that filled the room and the sweet satisfaction of seeing pies, cookies, and warm bread dotting nearly every inch of counter space; my mind drifting rather than paying attention to what I was doing.
I heard the break before I saw it and carefully began picking through the sudsy water. By the time I’d gotten to the bottom of the dishwater, I was sure I’d made a mistake. Everything was intact. Phew.
“What was I thinking using this bowl, my bread bowl, my favorite bowl…..as a dishpan?” I’d written about the bowl in 2 posts (These are a few of my favorite things & Unexpected Gifts) Silly, I know. It’s a bowl. It’s just a bowl. But I had formed an attachment to it, stirred ingredients with my grandchildren into it, left dough to rise overnight in it, ladled stories and memories into it.
This was the bowl I’d bought right before mom died when I’d reached a place inside of me that I could only label as despair. Darrell and I had drifted through a local craft fair and stopped to chat with a local potter. “Darrell,” I said after loving up one of the biggest bowls on the shelf, “I’m going to buy myself a birthday present, a bread bowl.” Darrell could have easily bought it for me but he didn’t interrupt my process. It was an act of self-care and when the potter pointed out a small flaw in the glaze I loved it even more. “Beautiful and flawed,” I thought, “just like life itself.”
I didn’t mope, or sag, or collapse as I retrieved the pieces of the bowl from the bottom of the sink but there was a piece of me that sank a little.
I spent a couple of hours browsing the internet looking for the potter whose name I didn’t know. I berated myself for not keeping his card.
As the days wore on the urgency to replace it dissipated until the thought that I could just let it go wafted in. The stories and memories it had contained were all tucked away inside of me.
I felt lighter, happy even. Taken by surprise, I started looking around the house for other things I might have formed attachments to. Could I let them go as well?
That’s when I started thinking about resolutions. The last one I blogged about, Seeing with New Eyes in the New Year, was in 2015 when my grandson inspired me with his kindness of heart. That resolution turned into a permanent change!
I could write another resolution for 2020 to keep this letting-go-of-things alive for the whole year! I googled the word resolve. Derived from the Latin word, solver, it means to loosen, to dissolve, disintegrate. It felt a bit too harsh, too final. I didn’t want to just solve a problem or make a hard and fast rule. Loosen? Yes. Disintegrate? No. Was there a softer word?
I landed on the word intention. Derived from the Latin word intendere, it means stretching, purpose. I liked that. It felt more fluid, determined with an implied gentleness. I intend to let go of things as I can. I’m not vowing to get rid of everything but to use discernment to release what I can. What remains I intend to love, use, and enjoy knowing that I may not have, or need, them forever.
There’s already been a sweet endnote.
On another of my birthdays several years ago, Darrell bartered with our friend who wanted Darrell to make him a pack basket. In return Ben, who has his own unique pottery in the Catskills, offered to tailor make a bread bowl for me. When Ben brought it to me I fell in love with it so much that I’ve only admired it from afar: afraid to use it because he made it, because Darrell bartered for it.
It has a glorious place on the shelf for everyone to oogle over but I know both Ben and Darrell intended for it to be used and loved up.
It’s time. This bowl, like the other one, is irreplaceable but I’m ready to pull it down from the shelf and start to mix some great stories into it!
Its new life, among the ranks of the other bowls on the kitchen counter, will begin with my first batch of dough for 2020. It’s one of my favorite, easiest, great-tasting, you’ll-make-it-all-year-if-you-try-it-once, loaves. I’ll post the recipe and results next time!
It’s interesting how easy it is to overlook all the abundance surrounding me and zoom in on what I’ve lost. I suppose, just like in 2015, I’m hoping to see things through a different lens.
Rest assured, I have learned a thing or two and will not be using this bowl for a dishpan. Sometimes, just sometimes, it takes things going to pieces to start moving in a new direction.
May you stretch, grow, and find purpose in 2020! Please take a moment to share your own thoughts, resolutions, or intentions for the new year! You may just inspire us all! Hope to see you around the (new) bread bowl soon!