Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Switches law for pottery, saves his life

There’s never a good time for cancer. When it hit Willie Leftwich, he was a high-power Washington attorney. He led his own law firm, tended to major clients, earned lots of money, and never lacked for prestige. But, at the same time, it was a stressful life. That way of life came to a rather sudden end. He was 57 when his doctor told him he had colon cancer. After surgery came a year of arduous chemotherapy. It laid him low; he had lots of time to think about the meaning of life, his life.

When he was in the hospital, he came to realize how great the simple things were, things like just being able to walk. Or eat. Or live without pain.

He decided that the legal profession –- taking depositions, preparing witnesses, going to court, contesting a case, logging hours on a billing time sheet – weren’t all that satisfying in the grander scheme of things.

But what was? Leftwich quit his law firm and went on a search. He tried real estate, investing and even creative writing. None hit the spot.

Then, at a friend’s behest, he tried pottery. He took a class. He was educated as an engineer (undergraduate, Howard University), so he had the engineer’s love of making things. He found he enjoyed the process of making pottery, loved it, in fact. He mastered the wheel, forming pots, glazes, and firing. He built a studio onto the back of his home where he makes his artful bowls, jars, pitchers, vases.

He says ceramics relaxes, calms him, making him happier than ever before. He says it saved his life. His story was told in the AARP Bulletin, December, 2006 issue. See more of his work.

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