When people get sick, they want to get back to feeling good again. When people have troubles in their relationships, they want to repair it so things can be like they used to be. And when people run into financial difficulties, they just want to be able to pay their bills. Essentially, when things get broken, we want them fixed.
For most, fixing something means having it returned to its original state. It means getting it to look, feel, or be like it was before it was broken. But what if we could grasp the concept of using that breakage or damage to repair it beyond its original condition? Taking something that is broken and not just fixing it, but going beyond that… and making it much better.
I was introduced to the Japanese word Kintsugi, which means golden joinery or golden repair. Kintsugi is “the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum,” according to Wikipedia. And, “as a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.”
I absolutely love this concept… taking something that is broken and repairing it in a way that it becomes better… and much more valuable. And to not try to hide the damaged area, but to highlight it. Wow! I love it!
Humans experience a lot of breakage. We often try to patch things up, sweep them under the rug, or hide them. With these breaks come resentment, regret, and shame. But if breaks are inevitable and happen to even the best of us, we need to aim to fix them. And if we fix them in a way that we are better than before the breakage, then we can highlight the cracked pieces, because without those breaks, we would never have been able to get where we’ve gotten.
I have two brothers and a sister. One of us broke a vase in the dining room when we were younger. Not wanting our parents to know, it was glued back together. It looked terrible, but we made sure the broken side was facing the wall, hidden. I don’t remember when the damage was discovered, but I’m sure it was thrown out, discarded as trash.
The reason it lost its value and was thrown out was because the break rendered it worthless. Our efforts to fix it where futile. We were trying to erase the damage and make it look like it was before the break. The fact was, it could never be like it was before. In this case, had we used the art of kintsugi, we would have had something MORE valuable. It would have been a new version of that vase. It would have become part of the history of that vase, not something to be hidden. (I can see us kids trying to sell the idea of kintsugi to our parents. Not sure they would have bought into that. Haha!)
Life’s cracks and breaks are inevitable. We can let them render us damaged goods, ugly, or worthless. Or… we can put the pieces back together using gold, silver, or platinum, creating something new… something more beautiful.
Our history, as can be seen with the current world events, is loaded with cracks, breaks, and even full on shattering. We can bury that, hide that, or deny that, or we can accept the damage and repair it in a way that those damaged pieces are put back together to create something that is stronger, more beautiful, and more valuable.
We can’t change the past or erase the cracks and breaks in our lives. They make us who we are. Let’s work to mend the areas of breakage with gold, silver, and platinum.