It is the Japanese concept of beauty in imperfection or flawed beauty. It also represents the impermanence of all things. The meaning I like most is “wisdom in natural simplicity”. There is something that grabs one’s attention to a piece of pottery that likely was in shards and could easily have been tossed into a waste basket. Instead, care is taken to retrieve the pieces and then the method of Kintsugi, is utilized, which is carefully adhering the pieces together with gold or sometimes silver dusted lacquer.
Why am I talking about broken pottery? As a metaphor for life philosophy, this is simply gorgeous. We all go through tough experiences in life including pain, suffering and loss. There is loss of youth and suppleness and of loved ones. We suffer from broken hearts, poor health, financial crisis, job loss and burnout. We have a tendency to want to “get over” these less than happy experiences as soon as possible and get back to happy living. That is normal human nature. Our brains have been wired for centuries to avoid pain, both physical and emotional. It is SO not fun to be in pain!!
In this modern day, we have so many modalities to escape, even more than our ancestors did. It can be through substances like drugs, both legal and illegal, or through addictive behaviors like watching TV for hours, surfing the internet or perusing social media. Distraction is so easily accessible these days.
But what if, instead, we view these events as cracks that break our hearts wide open? What if instead of viewing it as wrath from the Gods or the Universe, we ask “What is the lesson I am meant to learn from this?” But for that to happen, we have to remain open and living in the moment, even if it hurts like the dickens. And that, my friends, is not easy is it? That requires tremendous amounts of courage, infused with tenderness and self-compassion for our bruised hearts. That needs us to show our vulnerability, ask for help, allow others to see our wounds. That also means we allow our family and true friends to have the opportunity to support us and hold sacred space.
My first instinct, even now with this level of awareness, is to run for the hills. I hate “bad” things happening to me. I become like a child, kicking and screaming, “Why do You hate me so much?”, “Why can’t I just be left alone to be happy, is that too much to ask?”… on and on it goes. But then when the temper tantrum has subsided, I have started looking at it through a different lens.
When those cracks occur in our hearts, light enters and makes our lives richer and more colorful.
This allows us to appreciate the “good stuff” even more but also increases compassion in ourselves. We want to reach out and help other people who are in similar situations. It makes us grateful for our fortunes. Those who have suffered through painful moments in their lives have turned it around and contributed so much to the world. It is the classic message of Joseph Campbell’s book, ” The Hero’s Journey”. When the hero hits rock bottom and is willing to face his crisis and address it, he gets rewarded. Only tough experiences have the ability to bring about change in us. We would otherwise remain complacent and go through our lives with no incentive to change anything.
The truth is we all become broken pottery the longer we live. There is no escaping earth shattering moments. However, the real challenge is how do we respond and deal with it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.