Kintsugi is a Japanese tradition in which broken pieces of pottery, bowls, etc. are repaired by using gold, silver, or other precious elements. Legend states that the kintsugi tradition started when a member of the Japanese royal family broke a favorite cup and wanted the cup repaired. At the time, repair work was done with less precious materials, whatever sticky resin type material was around. This was for royalty though! The craftspeople decided to use precious metals to repair the cup and so the tradition was born.
The philosophy is built on the idea that nothing is ever truly broken. I have always loved this idea. Nothing is truly broken. The seams and lines that we classify as "broken" or aging are the unique marks of our lives. When someone says they are "broken", it can be an expression of the amount of pain they feel. To say, "you're not broken" can be invalidating...somehow diminishing their pain or discounting it, often with the result that the person feels or acts "more broken" in an attempt to be noticed, to be understood. Don't we all want to be understood? Don't we want to feel connected? Appreciation is not always for the things we do well but also to appreciate that we have gone through something very difficult, and maybe we DO feel broken, and that is okay.
Looking at the art of kintsugi, we can see how the beauty of the seams of gold, or even repairing by taking pieces of two separate things to create a new whole, is a new beautiful thing. Not what it was before but with a different beauty. What might have formerly been a mass produced, carefully duplicated piece now is unique and special. Part of the old, but fresh and new, ready to be used. Kintsugi takes time, weeks or months, to carefully repair and renew. When the refreshed piece is done, it can be used again. I like to think we can apply this principle to aging too. Aging is inevitable and a known element in the lifespan and yet so difficult for many of us to accept. The wrinkles and grey hairs- sure, we can say they are the signs of a life well lived...and they are! But we still try to pluck, dye, smooth, and stretch away the signs. What if, like kintsugi, we looked at those lines as beautiful, the pieces of each adventure, good and not so good, that make up the map of our life?
There are a number of kintsugi articles out there so I encourage each of you to check it out if you are interested!
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