I recently read that kintsugi is a Japanese art form where broken pottery is fixed with a lacquer resin sprinkled with powdered gold. Once the broken pottery is fixed with gold, it actually looks much more attractive than the original.
The story of this unusual aesthetic goes back to the 15th century. The Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa had broken his favorite teacup and sent it to China for repairs. It came back mended with unpleasant metal staples. Seeing it so ugly, the Shogun became very disappointed. He then ordered his craftsmen to look for a more flattering means of repair. The potters decided to fill the cracks with the lacquered resin and powdered gold. The broken ceramic had become a work of art.
The Shogun had taken something broken and ugly and turned it into something beautiful!
From then on, Japanese collectors sometimes would break perfectly ceramics, just to have them mended in gold. These damaged pots actually fetched a higher price than their flawless counterparts.
Shouldn’t we turn our life’s cracks into works of art? Look back at your life and see how every crack has actually made you more beautiful. Often when I have asked people to look at their life, most have agreed that what seemed like a negative time eventually turned out to be ameaningful turning point for them.
From time to time, we all break. Relationships break, aspirations break, friendships break, health and wealth suffer cracks and at times we feel incapable of repairing ourselves. These are the very times that can make us beautiful. All that is needed is faith that whatever is happening has a cause and reason behind it. Often when we are in the midst of a perceived negative event it is impossible to see the good in that situation. But when we look back we can see that
because of that event, our life took a different trajectory. We could indulge in self-pity about what happened or become consumed by misery and anger. Or, we could look at that negative event and use it to make life more beautiful.
I am reminded of a friend who spent time in prison. For all purposes he should have been angry and bitter, but instead he used that time to read up on various philosophies and worked on his body and mind, pretty much reinventing himself. In his own words, “had I continued on my original path, my body would have probably given up on me. Prison saved me.” Similarly, a major health scare forces us to adopt a different perspective or a healthier life style, and a broken relationship sometimes makes us more empathetic, considerate and compassionate.
All negative events can be turned around and made into something beautiful, for the old cliché is true: that which does not kill us makes us stronger.
I also now understand that physical death too, is not necessarily the end. Yes, the body dies but the consciousness continues its onward journey, entering into many more transformations like the kintsugi. Although a difficult concept to accept, I can see that it makes perfect sense. We all come with previous baggage. The sooner we start accepting our breaks and cracks, the sooner we will transform into something even more worthwhile: a being that is no longer perfect, but “perfectly imperfect”.
Next time something undesired happens, think about the Japanese art of kintsugi and see how suffering can be dusted with gold to make it of value.