Last spring I travelled to Icheon, South Korea to study under five of the Master Potters. For two weeks we were treated like royalty - we ate like kings, were chauffeured around to various museums, galleries and conferences. We participated in a traditional Korean woodfiring, and most importantly, we built lasting relationships with the 5 men and their wives.
Last week they arrived in Ontario for us to return the favour. They were presenters at the annual FUSION conference - a weekend in Toronto where 300 potters gathered to learn from their incredible skill, and celebrate a mutual love for clay! After the conference the group who went to Korea took them up to Judy and Howard Sparkes' cottage in North Kawartha.
We showed them one hell of a Canadian time! Not only did we take them water skiing, canoeing, fishing and swimming, but we ate burgers and cedar-plank grilled salmon, played cards, sat at the edge of the dock staring out at the blue sky and boated along the water's edge pointing out local wildlife and enjoying the water's spray.
Just like our trip to Korea, our friendship was easy, no words required. The language barrier was not a barrier at all - rather an opportunity to share experiences together without discussion or questioning. It was an opportunity to break out of your shell and be silly - because sign language and large gestures are the key to non-verbal communication. It was an opportunity to watch and feel, to grasp hands, touch a shoulder, be dramatic and wild and free. Laughter crosses every border. Eye contact says more than a thousand words combined. Understanding is learned through embrace, friendship is felt through mutual joy, and love is always present - you just need to look for it.