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Reconciling with our flaws KINTSUGI




In a world where we constantly feel we have to present an ideal version of ourselves, the ancient art of kintsugi serves as a reminder that our flaws can, in fact, be our greatest assets.





IN AN AGE THAT WORSHIPS YOUTH, PERFECTION AND THE NEW, THE ART OF KINTSUGI RETAINS A PARTICULAR WISDOM, AS APPLICABLE TO OUR OWN LIVES AS IT IS TO A BROKEN TEA CUP.



One of the most pertinent themes in life is our battle with our imperfections and our constant efforts to heal them. In our current day and age, we are so focused on covering up our flaws and sweeping our problems under the rug that we often don’t realize that they can be our greatest gifts. It is at this point that we can turn to the ancient Zen philosophy of “wabi-sabi” as a guide. According to Collins dictionary, wabi- sabi “is a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.” In wabi-sabi, flaws are not to be condemned but celebrated, and are what makes everything unique. An art stemming from this philosophy, Kintsugi (literally golden (“kin”) and joinery (“tsugi”) is an ancient Japanese art which believes that objects can be more beautiful for having been broken. Dating back to the Muromachi period in Japan, the art of ceramic repair mends broken pieces using gold to highlight the damaged areas. It embraces the broken parts and highlights them in the repair, treating the breakage as part of the history of the object. While the western approach towards repair adopts a “good as new” approach, attempting to hide broken parts and make anything broken appear exactly the same as before it was broken, with Kintsugi, objects are seen to be made more valuable by celebrating their history and showcasing the broken areas. By fixing an external object with our hands, we can use this process as a ritual to focus on and help fix internal damage or beliefs about our flaws as well.





“The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong in the broken place.”

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms



The traditional process of Kintsugi requires patience. One must first meditate on how the broken parts will be prepared, and due to the art’s long drying times and many steps, must work slowly and patiently to achieve the end result. If we use this as a metaphor for internal healing, the process of Kintsugi serves as a reminder that our internal wounds also require time and patience to repair. We can use the art as a meditative tool to manifest our internal processes upon a tangible object. Kintsugi also embodies the principle of sustainability. Instead of discarding what is broken, it uses natural, traditional methods to bring it back to life.

Kintsugi brings to our attention our relationships with perfection. In this day and age, when we are so focused on being flawless, where we use social media pictures to retouch ourselves when we have countless anti-aging methods at our disposal... In a world where we constantly feel we have to present an ideal version of ourselves, this ancient art serves as a reminder that our flaws can, in fact, be our greatest assets. When we can sit patiently with them and perhaps coat them in a layer of “gold” (acceptance), we can learn to appreciate that they are what set us apart from everyone else and makes us unique. In an age that worships youth, perfection and the new, the art of Kintsugi retains a particular wisdom – as applicable to our own lives as it is to a broken tea cup. The care and love expended on the shattered pots should lend us the confidence to respect what is damaged and scarred, vulnerable and imperfect – starting with ourselves and those around us. A reconciliation with the flaws and accidents of time.

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