Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.”
― John Green
The Japanese have some really lovely concepts, and one of my favorites (it doesn’t really translate in Western culture) is wabi-sabi, which teaches that there is beauty in imperfection, and that we should place a high value on authenticity.
The idea of wabi-sabi began in the Zen Buddhism tea ceremony, where the most prized bowls were handmade, and thereby unevenly shaped, with flawed glaze and cracked surfaces. These imperfections made them unique, and therefore precious.
If you think about it, this idea carries over into all areas of life. A house only becomes a home when there are imperfections; fingerprints on the walls, smudges on the mirrors, disorder in the pantry. A garden is most enchanting when it has run to riot, blooming and overgrown. And the most cherished family heirlooms are often far from perfect- a chipped teacup from your grandmother, for example, is no less a treasure for its blemish.
Above all else, this philosophy can be most aptly applied to the human condition. We all have failings and flaws, and parts of us that have been damaged- it’s the nature of life. Very often, though, I hear through tears that someone feels “broken”- as though these fractures are something to be ashamed of, or something that makes them less than what they should be.
If you’re feeling broken, consider incorporating the idea of wabi-sabi, and more specifically, the notion of Kintsugi into your mindset. If you’re not familiar with the concept, Kintsugi* is “golden joinery” or the art of fixing broken pottery with a lacquer made from powdered gold, silver or platinum. As pottery is pieced back together, each line of fracture becomes a unique, shimmering seam, creating a beautiful and entirely unique mosaic. And in the end, that once-broken piece is far more precious- not in spite of, but because of its damage.
The same is true of all of us, and we sell ourselves and others short if we believe that traumas or failures in life serve to diminish us. The opposite is true, because the work we do to heal old wounds is what makes each of us stronger, and more unique.
These cracks form our character. Let them shine.
*(You can read more about kintsugi here: https://mymodernmet.com/kintsugi-kintsukuroi/)