I broke my favorite mug.
I barely knew what was happening as it came crashing down from the high shelf. I bought it in Austin about 5 or 6 years ago, in some cute shop with a hipster-y bird in its logo. The mug was designed by Rae Dunn, a ceramicist whose aesthetic resonates with the wabi-sabi appreciators (look it up). This particular mug was Rae Dunn by Magenta, which means a manufacturer took some of the artist’s creations to China to mass produce, which brings a little irony to that whole wabi-sabi thing I just mentioned. I don’t care. I loved that freakin’ mug.
As a spiritual person, as a follower of zen buddhism, I understand that I should not have attachments to things. Attachment causes suffering, yadda yadda…it’s just STUFF. As an artist, a designer and a design appreciator, I struggle with this. I’m supposed to (and get paid to) create things that people will become attached to…and really, I don’t find significant harm in attachment to product –even mass produced product–if there is some meaning to that product. Who designed it? Is there a story behind it? A memory? Is it particularly well crafted–something you will pass along to your children or grandchildren? Will it grow more beautiful with age? And so on. There is joy to be had in something that was created by another person.
So, my mug. I was scouring the internet to find a replacement, none to be found. I even emailed the manufacturer. No luck. It was getting a little ridiculous, the lengths I was considering in order to replace that thing. But then I remembered! I have so many artist friends. So I commissioned one of them to make a new mug for me. But I didn’t show her the old mug. I just told her the word I wanted on it–“Begin.”–and the rest of the design is up to her. So I will have lost my favorite mug, but how much lovelier to receive it again, in a new form, created by someone I know and whose work I enjoy.