The Year Of The Beautiful Disaster.

I was talking to a local potter at his workshop.

I asked him what happened when he made a mistake.

He said that his work was quite precise, and anything that didn’t conform to his color and quality standards went straight onto the scrap heap.

I walked around his workshop and studio, and tucked away on a windowsill in the back I noticed a dusty little mug. It looked like someone had squashed in one side of the cup while the clay was wet, then fired it that way - clearly not an item that conformed to any kind of “quality standards.”

When the potter came over, I asked about the cup on the sill. He picked up the mug, dusted it off, and smiled. He said that when his son was little, the boy used to sneak up on him while he was working at the wheel, then shout “BOO!” in the hopes of startling the potter into making a mistake.

“This was the result of one of those times,” the potter said. “My son couldn't stop laughing over what I'd done to this poor mug. He begged me to fire it, which I did. Then, when I took it out of the kiln, I thought of that day and laughed all over again. So this one didn't make it onto the scrap heap. Isn't it funny? Even after all these years, seeing this crooked little cup still makes me smile.”

Like the potter's crooked little cup, this string of odd photos probably wouldn’t meet anyone’s “quality standards.” As some of you may know, the DMC-ZS3 frequently has a mind of its own. It flashes at random times, makes interesting color choices, and often focuses on the least-likely subject in the frame at any given time.

But there’s something unnerving and wonderful about working with a piece of equipment that has its own agenda. Once in a while I get it into my head that maybe I can gauge the conditions and adjust for the shortcomings of the DMC-ZS3, but that’s usually when it manages to surprise me the most.

Am I sometimes disappointed when my camera doesn’t capture a shot?


But to my eye, the choices made by the DMC-ZS3 are often quite beautiful. And as the story of the potter’s mug illustrates, mistakes can be both unpredictable and fantastic.

So I’ve decided that 2011 will be The Year Of The Beautiful Disaster.

No resolutions - I’m not a list of things that need fixing.

Besides, the whole point of this post is that screwing things up is an unavoidable fact of life. And at the dawn of a new year, you know what most of us screw up first? Our list of resolutions.

So in 2011, I’ll make every effort to view errors as opportunities and shortcomings as strengths.

Because I really have no choice.

And neither do you.

Happy New Year.


  1. Self affirmation and validation for my good intentions dispite all my screw ups ( like sending your Christmas present closer to your birthday). I love you Jennifer, please blog more often! - Melissa

  2. The potter story was enchanting. You should look for a magazine to publish that. I know the Chicken Soup stories have a bad rap but I enjoy them and your story seems to fit right in.

  3. That was a charming story, Jen. So filled with love and memory, it was.

    No resolutions for me either. I just plan to concentrate on the word "finish" and do exactly that.

  4. I love you, too, Melissa! And don't worry about my present. You are my present!

    Annie, I'm going to steal your idea. FINISH is such a good motto! And I'm glad you liked my story.

    You, too, Kym! Thank you for the compliment. If I could do as well as the mastermind behind the "Chicken Soup" franchise, you wouldn't hear me complaining at all! =]

  5. Well, Jendo. Nice work. Including the mistaked photos.

    In the world of creating/creation there are no mistakes. Imagine God saying "oops." Which may happen, how would I know?

    I love (LOVE) the little mug story. I love that he saved it. I love it all, and completely. Maybe I am resonating with an idea of "llightening up around the mistakes"...

    What is perfect?

    Besides you.