Everything is Broken / A Message of Hope…

“There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

          – Leonard Cohen

‘Kintsugi’ (or ‘Kintsukuroi’) is the Japanese art of repairing broken objects with gold.  Once repaired, the objects are considered more beautiful for having been broken.

In today’s world, perhaps more than ever before, we are subject to a continual and interminable bombardment of images touting promises of an almost laughably untenable perfection.  Flawless beauty, endless youth, perfect health, white-teeth beach-body relationships and a six-pack smile (‘yours for only $99 or your money back’) and on, and on, and on.

Deep down we all know (or at least suspect) that there is something inherently disingenuous about these white-light-too-bright visions.  They have the smell of the long con; the feel of the fix; the shallow shark-like sincerity of the salesman’s grin.  The look of the curtain that descends whilst the stage magician is plying his trade in order to obscure the mechanisms which underpin the illusion.  But, even knowing this, trying to navigate thru the world using a map contorted by so ubiquitous a distortion has us tied up in knots and chasing our own tails with the frantic energy of a straitjacketed crack-addicted puppy on espresso.

It is hard, if not impossible, to reconcile what we are presented with, with what we feel to be true, when that truth is being driven unwilling, whipped and bleeding, into a deranged, labyrinthine, and largely pornographic hall of mirrors, in which the exits are at best unclear, and at worst obscured entirely.

When something breaks our usual knee-jerk reaction is either: to get rid of it, or to repair it in whichever way renders the damage as imperceptible as possible.  We see the fractured spider web cracks that remain as lines of weakness; veins of a hidden shame, feeding an exiled, basement-consigned, and ever-growing heart of darkness.

But, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that being damaged and becoming broken as we move through life is not optional, it is inevitable.  The absolute, invariable, and inviolable, price of admission to the human experience.

The first very beautiful thing about the art of Kintsugi, is that it is firmly grounded in the real. It begins from how life really is, and teaches us to welcome both time and change as agents that can enhance, evolve, and ultimately improve the things that they dance with.

The second very beautiful thing about Kintsugi, is that it reframes our conception of beauty; revealing our scars, not as ugly brands of shame, but as hard-won badges of honor; a continually unfolding road map of our own unique journey through time.

And the third and most beautiful thing about Kintsugi, is that it offers us a candle flame of future-hope that burns bright, luminous, and constant, even in our darkest, most wretched, and most broken of present moments.

It is one thing not to mind and to be able to carry on regardless when something breaks, but to be able to see a thing as more beautiful for having been broken, to see this in ourselves, and to see it in others, well, this is a great thing indeed.  Perhaps even the greatest thing.  And if there is a more perfect metaphor for what is: great, true, and ultimately hopeful in the reality of the human condition then, dear reader, I have yet to find it.

I love you and I wish you well,

J


Did you like this?

If you enjoyed this you may also like: my love letter to the mountains of Scotland, my essay about one of the most useful things Theodore Roosevelt ever said, or my recent post on how to find beauty, even in the darkest of places.


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48 Comments

  1. This is one of the most beautiful and eloquently written posts I’ve read. You have an amazing gift with your use of words. I have found in my own life that there is much beauty to be found in brokenness, it’s all about your perspective, and whatever you are looking for, good or bad, is what you will find. I had never heard of this form of art, but I love, love, love the way it turns something broken into something beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou so much. It is really wonderful to receive this kind of feedback.
      I love that you connected with this post and I totally agree with your points here.
      You are most welcome – thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to write this,
      Have a good one,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow never heard anyone saying this before ”we know that being damaged and becoming broken as we move through life is not optional, it is inevitable”.
    Truly your article has a lot of insight in it.
    Like it.

    Like

  3. “But, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that being damaged and becoming broken as we move through life is not optional, it is inevitable.” So true and sad at the same time. I wish we could mend the broken pieces of anything horrible in our lives with gold as you show in the photograph. The memory remains but perhaps the lesson a golden one in retrospect. Great post. Thanks for stopping by Poemattic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou very much, I am glad you liked it.
      I am not sure that it needs to be sad, ultimately, what I take from the art of Kintsugi, is a gentle reframing of what it means to evolve and not regress as we move thru life whilst contending with the inevitable slings and arrows.
      Have a great day,
      – J

      Like

  4. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to read this. I’m so tired of people’s need and expectations for perfection, and their willingness to throw away anything and anyone who doesn’t come up to ‘standard’. You see some of the most beautiful and fulfilling sights once a crack appears.

    Liked by 1 person

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