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

  1. This is beautiful. I knew about kintsugi but to think about it in more human terms, how people can be broken but that can make them all the more beautiful is so inspiring and uplifting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am often amazed how certain writings or spoken words can find their way to us at a time when we most need the message they carry. The acceptance of our brokenness and realizing the depth of value it can bring is a personally enlightening experience. Too often I, as have many others, try denying those flaws out of shame- but this only creates a destructive cycle. Anyway, in my roundabout way I’m saying the words you’ve written came to me in a very timely fashion. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your passion James … your insights, conviction and your poetic language.

    This article was so timely as I revealed some things in a publication that is soon going to print and thought “shite, have I exposed myself too much?”

    This was going through my mind this morning and then this blog appeared. I’m at peace now with my “vulnerability hangover”.

    Thanks for a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou so much for this – I am really glad that you liked it, and your comment is very kind.
      A vulnerability hangover, can be a beautiful thing and can often indicate great writing.
      Really well done. And thanks for writing to me,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  4. James, I was so happy to find you and this lovely and love-filled post and blog. I have long loved the wabi-sabi tradition, and have often reflected on my own scars as the beautiful markers of healing that they are. I think you might enjoy this piece I wrote when in the throes of a scar, and how the pain which had become all-consuming helped me find beauty in the moment. From one musician/seeker to another;) – Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am really glad that you liked it. Thankyou for taking the time to write and tell me.
      I loved your post, very beautiful, very clear, thankyou for the point.
      From one musician to another,
      Have a great night,
      – J x

      Like

  5. Beautiful, James. So very true and open and honest.
    You have such a gentle voice, it suits such a message very well. (A random side-note, your voice strangely reminds me of Jude Law somewhat ?)
    Eastern philosophy is so wonderful and profound, such beautiful metaphors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jude Law!? Really?
      I have to say that this is, quite honestly, the first time that my voice has been compared to Jude Law’s.
      You are a groundbreaker.
      I am glad for you tho, I read your email, and I am.
      You are beautiful, you know it!
      – J x

      Like

  6. The beauty in seeing all things as whole is part of the journey to be love. To know you are complete and whole despite the journey traveled is a beautiful gift to receive and share. The cracks only defining the road traveled to wholeness thru continuous incarnations to release your true power in present time offering more now than never cracked or traveled at all. The awareness shared will open doors to inspire many on the same road to wholeness. Sharing appreciation and gratitude for including all in the journey. Continue blessings as you share your gifts with the world.

    In Love and Light

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou very much for this beautiful comment and for adding your point of view to the world-dirge.
      It means a lot to me that you took the time to both, read my post, and to write this. Thankyou.
      Hope your day is proceeding soundly,
      Best of luck to you,
      – J

      Like

  7. Thank you so much for liking my post and for this truly inspired post of yours. I learned about this tradition along the course of my recovery, but your way of writing about it stirs up little sparks in my heart! I believe that it is only in finding ourselves “broken” that we learn how to love and to be truly alive. Thank you for reminding me of this message!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are most welcome for both of these things, I am glad to be of service.
      And thankyou so much for stopping by and taking the time to write to me – I really appreciate it.
      Have a great day,
      – J

      Like

  8. Oh, such an interesting post. That bowl is so beautiful. I love the idea thst something mended can be more beautiful than before the break. And that the ‘flaw’ is emphasised rather than hidden. I have a habit of sewing very obvious little patches on stains or holes in my clothes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So you already knew! ;-)
      Really glad that you liked the post – Thankyou so much for taking the time to write back to me as well, I really appreciate it.
      Your clothes sound cool.
      Have a great day,
      – J

      Like

  9. As an active provider to my recovering community (drugs and alcohol) I would appreciate your blessing that I may share this message for those who believe that once broken they can never be of value again.
    The message is: the recovering addictive personality is more beautiful and of more value for having been broken. Their message is : recovery is possible if you look past the ubiquitous distortions of the commercial world and only consider the value of the mended soul.
    Thanks for all of the big words, they only serve to embellish a spot on message.
    Love, hugs and blessings … ME

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You absolutely have my blessing for this. If there is any way you can put this into service for people, please do it.
      I couldn’t agree with you more about the message, you heard it loud and clear.
      You are most welcome, I am really glad you liked it.
      Be well, I wish you the best,
      – J

      Like

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