vessels for holding
so things don't get lost
There are endless ways to hold things. My hands can pinch and throw and connect and form - they intimately know how to shape vessels out of clay. They could keep making pots out of the earth every moment until my death and still not inch closer to understanding the vast variations of containers that can exist in this world.
Holding things is innately human: cups for water, bowls for food, space for grief, vases for flowers, your hand for your lover’s hand, shelves for books, mugs for coffee, blank pages for words, headspace for grudges, your heart for the love of your pet. In The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin argues that the greatest invention of humankind is the container: a tool to carry energy home. Home as a space, a body, a relationship, a mind. Containers are the essential tool in organizing a life.
If you don’t have something to put _________ in, it will escape you. This space can be filled with anything, sacred or mundane.
If you don’t have a vessel to put water in, you cannot bring it to your lips and drink it.
If you don’t have an empty page to put words on, you cannot work through and communicate them.
If you don’t have a safe space to express your emotions, you cannot process them.
Physical vessels, at their most basic, allow us nourishment for survival. But a beautiful thing about being human is that these vessels can also bring joy and meaning and connection. My pottery adds a layer of humanness to the vessel, a story embedded in its being. A mug made by human hands feels more grounding when you drink from it. A beautifully textured vase elevates joy when arranging flowers from a loved one. A carved planter connects you to the Earth in a deeper way when you tenderly care for the plant it holds.
Spacial containers are just as human. A safe home to fold into after a long day. A studio for mess making, for setting aside screens and getting lost in the physical world. A digital space to share words, to show up to each week, whether the mood is there or not. Without creating this space for my writing, I would never have sat in front of a blank page on Friday morning; you wouldn’t be reading these words.
Possibly the most neglected containers in our society are spaces to process and express emotion - to feel our feelings. A partner to hold your grief. A friend to hold space in celebration of your wins. A journaling practice to hold your raw, unprocessed emotions. A therapist to hold space as you work through hurdles and pains and traumas. An essay from a writer sharing their own emotional processing, holding space to help you feel less alone as we all navigate this weird, wild world.
All of these containers have edges - boundaries - and you decide where they lay, how they function. You can secure them in place and ritualize practices, creating action and slowly making progress. Organizing the containers of your life allows respect of your own boundaries, and others. One cup cannot hold all that your body needs to be nourished, just like one person cannot hold space for your every emotion.
May the vessels in our lives bring grounding and joy and nourishment and connection and safe processing.
Last year I created a container for the first of many mindfulness offerings: my mindful pottery subscription. It’s been such a joy in my life and a space for lovely connection. Each month brings a bespoke piece of pottery and handwritten letter from me, connecting your new piece to a mindful reflection. It makes a thoughtful gift for a loved one (or yourself!) as we shift into the season of reflection and gratitude and giving. You can find details here.
And my messy studio photo this week is a blurry shot of my candle-lit desk, where I spent most of my time this week (because it’s not all muddy hands and vases overflowing with flowers).
The personal peace toolkit is your own catalog of accessible mindfulness to fold into your life in 30 seconds, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes, bringing a little more thoughtful calm to your days.
This week, we’ll build and reflect on our own boundaries and containers within our precious lives, strengthening relationships with ourselves and our loved ones.
If you’re not already a paid subscriber, I hope you consider joining and building some peace and reflection into your life with me <3
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