I am broken. There are many quotes, books, and scriptures that run a parallel about us being like broken vessle. In today’s standards, when something is broken we toss it out. There was a time in this country when there were people who made a living fixing broken things. TV repairman, Refrigerator repairman, even our clothing. Everything had value. We are conditioned to think anything that is broken is worthless.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. The gold forces the observer to take notice of the issue. While kintsugi restores functionality to an object, it also adds beauty and worth.
When a person is broken, to the world it means you have less worth, you are not taken as seriously. It’s something we hide in shame. We can sometimes think it’s better to just hide it, and hope no one notices, and keep pretending everything is fine. That can often lead to a dead end. Our brokenness, like that cracked windshield on our cars, cracks further, and eventually shatters, leaving the car un-drivable, the shattered glass prevents us from seeing where we are going or appreciate the beauty around us, because we no longer see it. What we do see becomes distorted.
What if we look at our brokenness as something of beauty? Like the Japanese artist, we fill it in with find gold, expose it to the light, use it to add value instead of hiding it? Often when a crack is repaired, what we once saw as weakness becomes even stronger with the attention we give it. We become interesting, we are useful, we are actually stronger, and glisten in the sun. It makes us unique.
I recently had a conversation with a friend, about our struggles with our weight. How often we see it as a big failure, and something ugly. Focusing on the wasted time spent losing and gaining weight throughout our lifetimes. We both agreed that the flaws and struggles in our life have become the best thing that has happened. We are repairing our flaws, and have gotten stronger, through it. Since everyone has flaws, we can inspire others to stop hiding them, and offer the hope for repair.
The thing is, when we are at our best is when we are in a constant process of repair. We never just repair our flaws and stay the same. Life wears us down, we need to constantly keep repairing and improving ourselves.
Some of the biggest treasures in the antique world are the items that are left as they are, not refurbished but left alone, exposing the history and wear over time. It is a testament of it’s rich history.
Don’t get me wrong, we should always strive to stay on track. Some people use their brokenness as an excuse to continue self destructive behavior. I’m not suggesting we eat recklessly and chalk it up to a learning experience. Or use it as an excuse to sneak in a bit of self indulgence. But the rubble of our lives can be great teachers of what we never want to do again. We can use that experience to make us stronger. Repeating the same errors over and over without repair, in time, can make us crumble. But learning from our mistakes, can lend valuable lifetime lessons. It teaches us we can really change our lives.
Never hide your flaws, or feel shame when you stumble. Acknowledge what you did, pick yourself up and fill it with the golden lesson you learned. And let it shine!