Exploring the philosophy of kintsugi and the concept that we are all more beautiful for having been broken.
As I struggled through the vicissitudes of 2019 (so far), the poignancy of the philosophy implied by the Japanese art of ’kintsugi’ encouraged me to begin the process of reframing how I felt about the broken parts of my being. How I could process, from a different perspective, the pain, trauma, grief, loss and failures that weave through the tapestry of my life. I realised all the darkness held the potential to be light, but only if I chose to search for it. At times the light was not easy to find, sometimes layering something good over hurts that have been nurtured for a lifetime, meant I had to give up a piece of my identity, the part that I defined by what I had lost, given away or was taken from me. But honestly, when I examined carefully each piece of darkness, sat with it, held it gently and with compassion, I always found an ember of light, a tiny golden glow. It is my very brokenness, my flaws, my imperfections that make me unique and beautiful, and you know, we are all beings of light and beauty. We all have the potential to be an alchemist, to render gold from even the basest of ingredients.
Leonard Cohen was not wrong when he wrote;
‘Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in’
But I think it’s also how the light gets out …
Notes from Wikipedia on Kintsugi
'As a philosophy, kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. Japanese aesthetics values marks of wear by the use of an object. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.
Kintsugi can relate to the Japanese philosophy of "no mind" (無心 mushin), which encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change, and fate as aspects of human life.
'Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated... a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin....Mushin is often literally translated as "no mind," but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. ...The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identification with, [things] outside oneself.''
— Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics