Today was the first day I’ve ever ‘thrown’ clay on a pottery wheel.
Naturally, I wasn’t very good. But after four hours of incredibly rewarding hyper focus, I left at least 200x better at pottery than I when I arrived.
200x better than abysmal isn’t good, but it’s something.
This experience reminded me of two things;
- Learning new skills that have tactile feedback loops can be an absolute delight for ADD/ADHD minds.
- Being shit at stuff is awesome. Our weakest skills usually offer the largest opportunity for progress and growth.
I cannot recommend a pursuit or obsession like this highly enough to anyone who struggles to manage any form of attention deficit disorder.
In fact, any activity which involves a tactile element that you can’t afford to take your eyes off, which also has instant measurable outcomes is a winner.
At its core, ADD/ADHD is the chemical disruption of regular executive functions. This basically just means that we’re not great at resisting impulsivity; we find it harder to stay on the path towards accomplishing goals because every side street or alley way could be where our next adventure begins. Even when we know there’s nothing down the alley, we can’t always resist checking. Just in case.
Activities like pottery are such blessings because they promote healthy hyper-focus. The hyperfocus is built-in because as the wheel spins and your hands are moulding the wet clay in front of you, there’s not room for any other inputs. This feels exquisite to people who don’t get to feel this often.
Hyper-focus is like putting on noise cancelling headphones at a football game.
The background static dissipates and you’re left with nothing but yourself and the task at hand.
This applies to short term goals, and is why we forget stuff, but it’s also why many of us struggle to stay committed to meaningful long-term progress.
By constantly exposing yourself to your own hyper-focus through an activity like this, you become better at managing (and hopefully harnessing) it.
Getting the hang of this and finding ways to maximise the time you get to spend hyper-focussed on interesting activities and problems that you care about is the key to a satisfying ADD/ADHD life.
The few hours after a Jiu-Jitsu class are the most productive hours of my day because my brain is primed to work in a way that it doesn’t prime itself naturally- I suspect this is the same for potters.
If you’re in Perth and are in any way interested in where you can go to try this, check out Clay Make Studio. The staff were lovely and their pricing is totally affordable.