Kintsugi

From Ando Modern Zen:

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandise the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”

This quote [1] from Barbara Bloom describes
Kintsugi [3], the Japanese practise of repairing precious but broken objects with gold. It’s a beautiful concept, related to the Japanese concept wabi-sabi [2].

The thought that when broken, an object can not only be made good again, usable, but it can be made better, more beautiful, is empowering. It can be a blessing for it to be broken. A blessing that we are not necessarily aware of at the time of breakage. Often, it is only hindsight that teaches us the benefits of breakage, of both objects and humans. Certainly, if something is perfect, flawless, it can have a beauty of it’s own. But the idea that once an imperfection befalls it, that it renders it less beautiful? This is transformed through an understanding of wabi-sabi [2], instead, allowing us to see increased beauty. How wonderful is that?

In my own life, it is the breakages that have made me stronger, the sickness, the loss, the painful parts, all have made me stronger. Some not yet, but they will, in time. There is a saying that we “become stronger at the broken parts”. But with that strength, comes an added beauty. It is a life lived, for better and worse, that brings about such great beauty in our elders. I have the utmost respect for the elders of our society, for this very reason. A wabi-sabi human is one who has the scars, internal and external, of life, and who is enhanced in beauty for that. Kintsugi [3], gives us the principle not only of repair, but of improvement, increased beauty too.

Creating beauty as well as strength in the broken parts is how I try to approach difficulties in my life. It isn’t always possible to avoid becoming damaged or broken, but it is possible to find beauty there, and where there isn’t beauty, we can add it, we can pour gold into our cracks and make them shine. In many ways, they can be the most beautiful parts of us.

 

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