Embracing the Beauty of Our Brokenness
Though it’s been in existence for centuries, I first learned of Kintsukuroi (“golden repair”) in 2015. Also known as Kintsugi (“golden joinery”), the ancient Japanese artform uses vibrant metallic lacquer to mend broken pottery. By accentuating its fractures instead of trying to disguise them, Kintsukuroi can transform a piece of damaged pottery from ordinary to extraordinary, elevating it to a new level of distinction.
I am enamored with this concept because of the obvious metaphor for the human experience. We can not only survive our wounds, but use them to transform us for the better. My most visible “fractures” are depression, anxiety, self-destructive behaviors, job layoffs, and the profound loss of people that I loved.
Over the course of my lifetime, I have tried to unconvincingly conceal my damage, hoping that no one would notice my palpable distress. I have also tried to lie in helplessly in divergent pieces, but that wasn’t terribly effective either. When my life imploded at the end of 2015, I finally gained the willingness to face my traumas head on. I have started to gradually put my broken pieces back together. The “lacquer” that unifies me is combination of an amazing support system, deep spiritual work, therapy, and faith that the Universe conspires on my behalf. Although my journey has been gut-wrenching at times, I wouldn’t trade any of it. Without having gone through the heartache, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to become the woman I am becoming. By acknowledging and honoring my emotional scars, I have tapped into an inner power that I didn’t know I possessed, and now have the capacity to help others who struggle with the same wounds.
Although it has been a recent development for me, the concept of celebrating personal fragmentation has spanned millennia. Thirteenth century poet Rumi observed, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” In 1992’s Anthem, Leonard Cohen crooned, “Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.” In a recent webinar Gabrielle Bernstein emphatically declared,
“Your wounds are your wisdom, your experience is your message.”
(The abbreviated clip below is from her full 90 minute Youtube video.)
A quote from this January 2016 article sums it up nicely.
“This is the essence of resilience. Each of us should look for a way to cope with traumatic events in a positive way, learn from negative experiences, take the best from them and convince ourselves that exactly these experiences make each person unique, precious.”
For more examples of the actual art form, as well as instructions on how it’s done and how to make it yourself, check out the following links.