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art by Shothot Designs

Flood Myth

Brian Dolton was born and raised in England but now lives in New Mexico (and on a clear day, can just about see Old Mexico).   He's watched a Saharan sunset from the back of a camel, played volleyball on a sandbar in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and stayed in a Buddhist monastery on a sacred mountain in Japan.   Occasionally, he even finds time to write.

Begin with water.
Cup it in your hands. You can feel its utter lack of character. It has no texture; it has no resistance. It is substance, and yet it is emptiness. It possesses nothing of its own. It cannot give; it can only borrow.
But it is vital. You must always begin with water. Pour the water onto your working surface. Some will be absorbed, and become part of the earth. Some will evaporate, and become part of the air. But some will remain water.
Continue with earth.
Take the clay, and place it there in front of you. See how it rests, separated from your working surface by a thin film of water. The clay will be thirsty. Clay is always thirsty. Take some more water, and let it dribble carefully from your hands. The clay will drink some of it in. Now your work can truly begin. Dig your fingers into the clay. Press it, tease it, shape it. Control it. Where you need to, add more water; but only a few drops at a time. Feel the schism between slick and stiff. Too much water, and it overwhelms the clay. If this happens, you will need to discard what you have done, and start over again. But too little water, and the clay remains unyielding, unmalleable.
You want it malleable.
Work slowly and patiently as you form the desired shape. Always find the balance between earth and water. Balance is important. All creation is balance. You may remove and discard pieces of clay that you do not require. You may add more clay, where your creation has need of it.
And always; always water, just enough.
When you have shaped what you desired to shape, when your imagination has taken form in front of you; then it is time for fire.
All creations must be tempered by fire. Tested by fire. But fire is angry, and eager, and willful. You must be careful with the fire. Too much, and your creation will be cracked, and flawed, and may break or crumble. You do not want this. You do not want to see flaws. If you do, then you must discard all that you have done, and start again.
Once the fire is done with; once your creation is tempered and cooled; than it is time for the last step.
Take it in your hands, and breathe upon it.
Breathe it into life.
Then set it down, and look upon it. Water and earth, fire and air. All the elements of creation. You have proved yourself to be a creator. You have proved yourself to be a god. If you are very fortunate, your creation will seem good to you.
And if it does not? If you grow weary of what you have made? If you find yourself no longer amused? Well, it can end the way it began.
With water.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Author Comments

I'd just like to say that I have absolutely no skill whatsoever when it comes to making pottery.   I've tried it precisely once, and it didn't go well.   Not that the story is really about making pottery at all.   But I wish to reassure my readers that I have absolutely no skill whatsoever at creating or destroying life, either.  

- Brian Dolton
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