This hammering of clay quickly became too much fun. The folded knees developed in a matter of minutes. And then I focused on the center, that area just below the bellybutton, compressing clay in the middle (roughly!). As I hammered away, I could hear my first Zen Master, Seung Sahn, shouting in my ear, “You must keep a strong center! Believe in yourself 100%!” At every blow of hammer meeting clay, I could feel my own center galvanizing, growing warm with energy and playful joy.
The first day, when I set the Buddha outside amidst the fallen maple leaves, it was clear and sunny. But the second day it rained continuously (as it does for months on end here in the Pacific Northwest). I found myself obsessed with looking out the window at the weather, the sculpture. Several times during the day I put on my raincoat and went out to inspect. How was it doing? How long would it last before the Buddha was a pool of mud? A day? A month?
For some reason, I was delighted by the rain. Already, it was changing! A thin glossy film of slurry covered the surface. The first traces of dissolved clay pooled on the slate surface.