Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Void of Possibilities

The Honeymoon Bowl
Dao – The balance of opposites.  A bowl cannot exist unless it has a substance and emptiness

When my husband and I got married almost 15 years ago, my mother gave me some money specifically to buy a souvenir of our honeymoon in Ireland.
“Don’t get junk.  Get something special,” she’d said in her chiding tone as she handed me an envelope of cash.

What to get that both of us would enjoy?  The obvious tourist shops were out.  A keg of Guinness would only last a month or so, Jameson’s not much longer.  I’m fond of antiques so that seemed like a logical place to start.  Budget aside, nothing caught my attention and my husband quickly (but politely) got tired of going into the shops with me.  Since I thought the search should be a joint agreement, those hunting ventures ended.

 When we went to Kylemore Abbey, there was a pottery shop nearby.  Pottery?  Most Irish pottery (not fine china), is decorated with stamping.  A little too rustic for our taste.  But I do like handmade.   One group of pottery caught our eye.  The glaze was emerald green, and all the ware had rune-like patterns carved into the clay.  We both liked the look and portability wasn’t a problem.  The question was what type of pottery?  Tea pot?  Neither of us drank tea.  Platter? Hm.  Bowl?

The bowl got my vote, although it would be more difficult to transport.  My husband wanted the platter.
“But a bowl has so many possibilities,” I argued, a more esoteric view starting to come into focus.  “It can be used to hold fruit, Christmas ornaments, flowers …”

“So, it’s more practical,” my husband said.  “We’ll use it more?”
My husband is left-brained.  I’m not.

“Yes … no,” I vacillated.  “It could be.” 
Despite not totally understanding me, my husband agreed to purchase the bowl.  This is why I married him.
Then, after returning home, he did the verboten.  He put fruit in the bowl.

“You can’t put fruit in that bowl,” I said.

“Why not?  It’s not being used for anything else.” He compared the bunch of bananas to the bowl.  “It fits.”

“But then it’ll be a fruit bowl,” I explained.
Blank expression.

The forgotten and neglected Christmas ball bowl.
“If it’s the fruit bowl, we’ll always put fruit in it,” I clarified.
Blank expression turned to puzzled look.  “So, what do we put in it then?” he asked.

“Nothing,” I said.

“Yes.  Nothing.”

I emptied the bowl, wiped it clean, and returned it to the coffee table.  I put the fruit in another bowl.  I can’t begin to explain the expression on his face at that point.

“So, what was the point in getting that bowl?” he asked.  “Didn’t you say that it could be used to hold fruit, Christmas ornaments, flowers …?”

“But, that’s the whole point,” I said.  “It could be used for a multitude of things.  The possibilities are endless.”

“Then, why aren’t we using it for a multitude of things?”

“Because then the possibilities would be gone,” I said.  “It would be the fruit bowl or the flower bowl or, heaven forbid, the potpourri bowl.”

We both shuddered at that thought.

“When it’s empty, anything is possible,” I concluded with some satisfaction.

I don’t know that he understood me, but he did the excellent husband thing and nodded and let it go.

When my friends first started to get married, I usually bought picture frames.  Partly because I was on a limited budget, partly because it was practical since they would have wedding pictures.  I also liked the idea of capturing and treasuring memories.  I was a history major, after all. 

After the “honeymoon bowl,” I changed my point of view.  I was never big on taking or displaying photos.  Frequently, I’m just too distracted to remember to take a picture.  But looking at possibilities?  I’m always doing that.

Since then, as designated gift purchaser for weddings, I’ve bought bowls.  What better way to start a new life together than considering all the possibilities.

The last wedding we went to was for Doug’s cousin.  Because they’re a young couple, we got their bridal registry.  We were standing in the middle of Pottery Barn perusing the list.

“Look,” my husband said, reading over my shoulder.  “There’s a bowl.”

Grasshopper has learned well.

“Are you sure you don’t want to get the martini glasses?” I asked, half-joking.

“We can get those and the bowl,” he said with a smile.

Cocktails and possibilities.  Not a bad way to start a married life.


  1. Martini glasses also have Koutential! Bob sure has poured some tasty treats into our glasses!!!

  2. The bowl is lovely and the story attached is priceless! Being married to an engineer I know all about the arguing with the left brained of the species. As you have also discovered, stepping into the esoteric stumps all logic! The bowl of possibilities!


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