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,


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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301 Replies to “Everything is Broken / A Message of Hope…”

  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful and encouraging piece of writing. I am on a long journey which leaves scars. I have learned to accept them, to live with them. There is so much I am learning about myself and others. “Kintsugi” is a precious word for a new way of looking at Life. Much gratitude to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thoughtful, deep and insightful. I feel the same exact way about my many scars from years of fighting and playing soccer. The most prominent of them all being the long scar in front of my knee from ACL surgery.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. pleasure
        All the best, James

        “I make art through photography and my camera is my paint brush on the canvas.”

        “I make art through writing…and words are my tools. My palette is the canvas of life”

        – craig

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I Love the writing, James. Well done and well said. Might I submit a fourth beautiful thing about kintsugi? It teaches us that we are not done or relegated to scrap with having been broken. That we can gather the pieces and be as, if not more useful, than we ever were before.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was really a great writing … And after reading this …my smile got extrapolated just like points in geometry . . . Would wish to see many more likw this to read .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. James, I am fifty and strong.

    My husband died over two years ago from lung cancer (not a smoker). I became very, very sick a year later. I finished chemo this last March for colon cancer. I had emergency surgery in August 2014 to remove a tumor, and I have a scar . . . I feel it transects all of me. I am Kintsugi. And I am very fine with the whole idea. And the scar is a physical and outward sign of many internal scars that come as part of living. I am not sad, but very fine. And so thankful to be here.

    Thank you for your essay.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou so much for this comment and your honesty.
      I am very sorry to hear of your difficulties, but am also inspired by your beautiful strength of spirit. I find this to be incredible and moving.
      Wishing you much love, wherever you are,
      – J


  6. I have to thank-you profoundly for this post on Kintsugi, as it speaks to me on a deeply personal level. It’s appearance to me today is a manifestation of the great mystery of connection.

    When I was a child, my parents, who had grown up in the Great Depression where accustomed to fixing anything and everything that broke. My father fixed the dryer, the washing machine, plumbing, electricity, and so forth. But he was most especially the man who glued broken glass and china back together. Good as new! Once, when my grandmother had mailed me a china doll that broke in shipping I took to him in his basement workshop and asked him to fix it. He sighed wearily and said, “My life has come to fixing broken things.” It was rare moment of candor between my father and my childhood self. And I didn’t even really mind that he never did glue it together.

    Your post then, felt like my father speaking to me again, at a time when I am feeling broken.

    My sister passed away suddenly recently, and the circumstances surrounding her death were traumatic and reawakened old childhood traumas that we endured together as a result of my mother’s temperament. As adults my sister and I took divergent paths. I made many sacrifices to recover from PTSD and addictions and build a peaceful life for myself. Though my sister had things I never did: children and a prosperous lifestyle, the underlying damage affected her life deeply and tragically. I have been grieving deeply.

    Recently I had a dream in which I found myself sitting next to my father who has been gone many decades. My father was a peacefully and loving father, my mother not so much. In my dream he was a ghostly shade, and I just started talking to him telling him how much I wanted to talk to him about what happened to my sister, both in the past and the present. I wanted to understand what he knew of the circumstances of her early life that left her with a traumatic brain injury. But alas, as a shade he could not speak to me, but simply sit next to me. I woke up with tears in my eyes.

    Now, through your post, he has spoken. I shall now begin to think of myself as Kintsugi.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel that it is I who should be thanking you. This is such a beautiful message, you have really touched me with it, thankyou so much for sharing it in this place. When I finished reading it, I also had tears in my eyes.
      I feel very honored that you consider this piece of writing to be in your father’s voice, and am glad that it helped, in any way, to ease what must be a difficult and trying time for you.
      I worked very hard on this piece of writing. Your comment has made that more than worthwhile. I am in your debt.
      I wish you the very best, please feel free to stay in touch with me and, if there’s anything I can do to help you, please let me know.
      All love, big hug,
      – J x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so much James(can I call you that?) this is such a profound message especially for this time and season. Brokenness also brings healing with it is what I’ve found out.
    Thank you for this perspective. Please keep them coming 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was most impressed with this deeply insightful analysis of one aspect of the “human” experience. In addition, it was extremely well-written. I liked it a lot. A lot. Thank you for sharing it with the us.
    Also, thank you for visiting my blog and “liking” my newest post “Don’t Pass it on.” I really appreciate it. I do hope you stop by again. Be well, Sir. Be well.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You are an amazing writer, and this is such a beautiful piece. I tried writing this comment to you earlier, but I think it might have gone to your “Connect” page instead.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Keep writing. You have no idea how much I needed this right now.
    I also just shared your post on my facebook page, and the comment next to my post was: “One of my new, favorite bloggers.” :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. After a bone is broken, there is a period of time where that site is stronger than other bone around it. People will break many parts of themselves throughout their life, however, this awards a unique opportunity for fortitude.


  11. Thank you for your precious words. I am also blown away by hearing your words, spoken by you! Wow. What a great blog feature. I’ll be your mirror anyday (sending love & blessings to you, Lou Reed, and Leonard Cohen)


  12. JAMES.. such a beautiful and true, as beauty is, essay.. Blessing to you! You would enjoy my ” The Tale of R-Qu” for children.. and we adults who want to acknowledge and embrace our brokeness and find the beauty in our transformations.. Bless you, Hugs and thx for the ” like” Jeane


  13. This was a timely post. The two things that stood out to me is your discovery of writing for yourself. I have found that in creating my site…that’s the only thing that works in showing your genuine nature. I, personally, can connect more with someone who comes from this place. I say to you, never stop working on yourself, because someone, somewhere is experiencing that very situation.

    The other thing that stood out is the mentioning of brokenness not being an option, but inevitable. This is where we tend to place this fact in the not me but someone else pile. We only want good to happen and never bad. One thing I’m learning is to hold on tight and go along for the ride; wherever life brings you is where you’re supposed to be. Thank you for checking out my site and I wish you nothing but success in spreading your message of hope, life and love!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou very much. I found this to be insightful, inspiring, and very well thought through, so bravo to you! ;-)
      Being true to yourself and accepting the various realities of life, especially the ones that we would prefer to be different is, I feel, key if we want to live in a meaningful way.
      Keep up the great work, it is really nice to connect, and have a great day,
      – J


  14. I love your sincerity and positive outlook.

    I’m reminded of a conversation that took place only a few days ago when I was asked how I functioned with so many bits of my body that had been broken or were not working as nature had intended. I’d never been asked that before and I’m still unsure of the answer. I adapted and made things work but in a slightly different and often, bizarre way. This didn’t make it wrong or ugly but I’m certain that for some, it may not fit that ‘one size fits all’ approach that is so often taken by many.

    I like being a little bit broken and I have no desire or want to go and fix what works perfectly well in a world where people feel the need to be brighter than bright and whiter than white.

    True beauty lies deep within and often more so, with cracks and crevices and broken bits; they all tell a story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are beautiful. This is a beautiful comment. Thankyou.
      I am really glad you like the post, and I am really glad to hear from you. I love your outlook.
      More power to you, stay in touch, and have a great day,
      – J x


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