What I do know is that using [a] teapot always propels me into a sort of mindfulness, forcing me to stop in my tracks and think about things I don't always give enough attention to: the poverty of third-world workers and their often horrible working conditions, for instance. Have I fed the pattern by buying this ware, or have I merely contributed my money to an economy that needs it? When I pour tea from this pot, I am acutely aware of the hands that made it, decorated it, glazed it, fired it, set it to cool, packed it. Were these people happy, or miserable, or just doing their job with their mind on more important things? I hope they take some satisfaction in producing this stuff. But again, I don't know. . . .

Maybe what my teapot is supposed to do in my life is cultivate this sort of mindfulness, to remind me to be painfully, lovingly aware of this world's real suffering beauty and of my own prejudices and blinkered vision. Its humility should keep me humble; its beauty should remind me of delight.

Molly Wolf, White China