My house help accidentally broke a flower pot. She had apology written in capitals all across her face. Her remorse increased when I told her what it cost and she offered to replace it. When her sorry did not end, I told her that its lifespan was over, it had to go and she should let the matter rest there. That is what we always say in my family when something breaks. Its time was up. Period! No blaming, screaming, shouting and moping!
These mishaps though not common are not very rare either. Over the years from pigeons to our late pet to all members of the family to a friend or two, we are responsible for having sent something to its resting place in the garbage bin. Crockery, jars, vases, wall plates, antiques...name it and we have said a requiem for it.
Perhaps we should practice the Japanese art of Kintsugi.
Kin = golden
Tsugi = joinery
Kintsugi comes from the Zen ideal of wabi-sabi , which acknowledges three simple truths —
nothing is permanent,
nothing is absolute and
nothing is perfect.
It is the art of joining shards of wrecked ceramics with gold-flecked lacquer. But it is not just about putting together the broken pottery. There is a deeper rationale behind it. It is about rendering the chinks stronger, more attractive; it is to accentuate their philosophic merit – cracks are an integral part of life.
In an age obsessed with youth, perfection and disregard for the old, this art imparts special wisdom. It becomes a remedial metaphor for life. It enjoins us to make graceful allowance for the impermanence and imperfections of life and the world at large. It signifies that we should graciously accept ourselves and others, warts and all – wounds, scars, vulnerabilities and limitations. Our self-worth eventually defines how we value others. The higher our self-esteem, we will have that much more empathetic regard for others.
When we become punching bags with our dreams shattered, when life throws unexpected hook balls at us and devastates our spirits we must glue the ruptures with the gold-flecked lacquer of inner strength, acknowledge our incompleteness with poise and repair splinters of the self with the same, if not more attentiveness, deference and tenderness we would extend to pieces of porcelain. It takes time to sort out the bits and put them back the right way but till then we must assemble the fragments and hold them together the best way we can; empower our brokenness and allow it to become the fulcrum of strength and resilience for an emergent new personality.