Could you imagine taking something that is broken, and instead of discarding it, creating something totally new and even more valuable with it?
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing what is broken. A ceramic bowl broken into many pieces is artistically put back together with each crack and vein of the joints filled in with lacquer and then topped off with powdered gold dust. Also called “the art of joinery” and “golden joinery”, this process creates a whole new artifact, significantly greater in value than the sum of its broken parts.
Think about this for a moment.
According to the philosophy of Kintsugi, it is in the repair of that which is broken that true and lasting beauty lies. The key is not denying the broken, but rather embracing the broken parts, and even celebrating them, sharing them and putting them on display for others to cherish.
When I see this from the perspective of personal transformation, I think of relationships that have suffered a blow and perhaps even shattered. While some courageously brave the journey of repair, others may be quick to “patch up”, “brush under the rug” or plainly deny that any damage occurred at all. Some will discard.
While not all media thrives on distortion, some media (electronic, print and social media) does. A distorted view of what life should look like is deeply experienced by many at one level or another. We play our parts in this dance of Maya or illusion. This is not to judge our past choices, but rather an invitation to make a new choice now.
One of my clients, Dani, shared that she felt like the boiling frog in the fable where the frog keeps adjusting to the water even as the temperature slowly rises. Assuming it can adapt to the heat indefinitely, when the water reaches boiling point, the frog is unable to to adjust anymore, as it’s lost all its strength. Very soon the frog dies.
The moral of the story here is that maladaptations come at a personal price. For those who have had adverse childhood experiences, having faced abuse or trauma, perhaps once those coping mechanisms were a way to survive. In adulthood however, the law of diminishing returns kicks in and you are stuck in a cycle perpetuated by your own behaviors like a hamster on a wheel.
In the context of relationships that have suffered an injury, when you patch up, deny, or brush the issue under the rug, you essentially step over the damage or hurt and move on without any resolution or healing. You tend to minimize the trauma or betrayal and act as if everything is normal and consciously choose not to address the discomfort and carry on with life. Sadly, these scenarios cause continuous suffering and are a surefire formula for dysfunctional relationships.
What happens when instead of discarding, denying or brushing under the rug you choose to repair a relationship?
If and when it is safe, you choose to repair what has been broken in a relationship, you begin to look at what happened and how you got to the breaking point in your relationship. By being in reality and honoring the broken parts you can authentically heal and consciously choose to do the work of repair, make amends and nurture the relationship with mutual respect and healthy dialog. In this way you begin birthing a relationship unlike the one from the past.
Let us simply look at just one relationship. No matter who you are, you have this relationship. I guarantee you. It is the one with yourself! How would you describe your relationship with yourself? If you were to look at your relationship to yourself through the philosophical lens of Kintsugi, what might become available to you? Would you be willing to consider that who you are is priceless because of the life you have had? Broken, smashed and shattered pieces and all? Would you be willing to celebrate the beauty of broken? Because who you are is far greater than the sum of your broken parts.
Are you ready to make art with the pieces of your life? Would you like to learn how?